Breakthrough books for reluctant readers

Published on: 20 October 2015 Author: Andy Seed

Author and reading-for-pleasure campaigner, Andy Seed, shares an inspiring experience...

Child readingI remember the moment clearly: I was invited to my local primary school as their 'adopted author'. It was the summer fair and they asked me if I wanted a stall to sell books at. Of course I did!

Lots of children came over during the day and a few parents bought books. There were quiet moments too when the action was somewhere else. A woman carrying a jar of sweets hurried past my stall and did a double take.

Oh, did you write that book – the funny poetry book?' she said.

'Yes, that's me.' I nodded and smiled.

'Oh my son Ben loves that book. He's read it so many times. He even reads the poems to his little sister.'

She put down the jar. 'You know, I need to thank you properly. I was always trying to get Ben to read before and he never would. But he's a reader now – always with a book. It was your funny poetry book that did it, so thank you.'

That made my day.

Sometimes a child doesn't get going until they find a book that really connects with them – a book that happens to tune in perfectly with their interests, personality, sense of humour and so on.

What is the breakthrough book?

It's what I call the first book that a child reads through and enjoys because they want to. A book they love and re-read – the right book at the right time, perfect for the age and character.

It's a hugely important thing for a child because not only can it make him or her into a reader but it can be a watermark in their academic life, boosting their understanding, language skills and confidence as they get to grips with the written word at school.

How do you find it?

Well for many reluctant readers it might not be traditional fiction for a start. It could be a fact book, a joke collection, a graphic novel or a humorous miscellany. Or, of course, it could be a fun poetry book. Any of these can launch a child into reading.

One way to find recommended books of different types is to use Booktrust's marvellous Book Finder. Have a look – just choose an age group, pick a category then browse for something your child might like. Then see if your local library has it.

That breakthrough book is out there!

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