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Posted by Camilla, August 16, 2012

Books that beg to be read

A response to Kate’s blog from Tuesday, “Should we pay children to read?”

While my rational brain can’t help thinking that by paying children to read you are on a hiding to nothing, I have to admit to feeling slightly anxious about my own seven-year-old’s reluctance to read black and white fiction, and I have even fleetingly wondered whether incentivising her with gifts, or even money, might work. Up until very recently, she has enjoyed books, and reads alone, but has stuck resolutely to highly illustrated books – Chris Riddell’s Ottoline series and Alex T Smith’s Claude books have gone down brilliantly, as have our own Magical Mix-ups, and other than that she has solemnly trudged through my entire collection of Tintin books (I’m not sure how much she understands of them, mind). Very much in parallel with her own cycling skills, she has clung on to the security that pictures give her, just as she has refused to abandon her stabilisers.

But I needn’t have worried, and like all children when it comes to those dreaded developmental milestones, she has done it at her own pace. I had read the first two books in the Rescue Princesses series to both my children together at bedtime (so the aforementioned seven-year-old, and her four-year-old sister), which they have adored, and then last week I brought home an advance copy of Moonlit Mystery, the third title in the series. By breakfast the next morning, my fiction-refusenik was halfway through it; by supper time she had finished it.

It was, I must admit, rather satisfying that it should be a Nosy Crow book that she chose to pick up for the first time. But it is a genuine reflection of Paula Harrison’s exciting but approachable stories which meant that the seven-year-old had the confidence to tackle one on her own.

Last night I got half way through a Secret Seven (Enid Blyton, of course) book with the children at bedtime: the picture above shows a small girl who could just not wait till this evening to find out what happens next. (And I don’t know whether it’s a coincidence, but this afternoon she rode a bike, without help or support too. It doesn’t rain but it pours!)

What are the books that have sucked either you or your children into reading? The stories that are so good that they beg to be read?

They may not even be stories, of course. A friend of mine’s son, also seven, is a fantastic reader, but honed his literacy skills by obsessively reading about his favourite football team, Arsenal, on line.

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