Childish Nonsense

Exploring Children's Literature

What Do Kids Need?

on May 29, 2015

With summer reading programs upon us, many people are discussing the pros and cons of such programs. But most people agree that reading is a good habit to have. So, what do kids need? Mostly, kids need to be presented with books they will read.

  • Books they’re interested in. What are they interested in? Well, pretty much everything, but here’s a short list: babies, backpacks, bacon, badminton, baggy clothes, balloon animals, balloons, Band-Aids, basketball, bathroom humor. And that’s just the ones that start with “ba.” Okay, I totally stole this from Tara Lazar’s blog, Writing for Kids (While Raising Them) (http://taralazar.com/2007/11/04/199-things-that-kids-like/). Books don’t need to have explosions. They just need to use an interesting approach. Easier said than done, eh?
  • Books with characters they can identify with. This does not mean that all books need to be about minorities or disabled or disenfranchised in some other way. What it does mean is that SOME books need to be about girls or African-Americans or children struggling with gender identity. After all, isn’t that the world the kids live in? A good story does more to show how we’re all alike than how we’re all different.
  • Books that challenge but don’t leave kids frustrated. Many of the books I’ve reviewed contained wonderful stories and information for children of a certain age, but I felt there were way too many new words and concepts for that age. In those cases, I suggest that parents and teachers read the book with the kids, at least on the first go-through. Nothing wrong with that. Try it. You’ll like it.
  • Subtle books that don’t hit them over the head with the theme or subject matter. Nobody wants to be preached at. And kids are more in tune to this than adults. Partly because they’re told what to do all day long. It gets tiring. They need something where they can find the clues and come to their own conclusions. Something that stimulates learning.
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