Tweens Read August is a 14 day event taking place for the first two weeks of August. I’ll be hosting authors, regardless of debut year, whose books I’m the most excited for. Each day, I’ll announce who the next author is at the end of the post. There’s also a giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!
It’s the 13th day of Tweens Read August, and today, Melanie Conklin is here to talk about choosing books for middle-grade readers!
Here’s a little bit about her debut:
Release Date: March 1st, 2016
Life is confusing for Mateo Martinez. He and Johnny Ramirez don’t hang out anymore, even though they used to be best friends. He and his new friend Ashwin try to act like brave, old-time knights, but it only gets them in trouble. His parents keep telling him to hold his sister’s hand when crossing busy streets, even though she’s the one who always runs ahead.
And last night, two skunks stole Mateo’s old trike.
Wait—two skunks stole his trike?
Mateo is too big for that rusty kid toy. He has a cool, shiny new bike anyway. But Mateo also has a neighborhood to protect. And he’s about to begin a big, stinky quest to catch the thieves. A quest that starts in the middle of the night!
Description taken from Goodreads.
Choosing Books for Young Readers
It’s summer reading crunch time. Do you have a morose child draped over your couch? Is the summer reading quota giving you stress? Stop. Seriously, stop stressing!
As an avid kid reader, an elementary school teacher, a parent, and an author I know that reading should be approached with excitement. Stress and pressure just won’t do anything for your young reader. So here are my no stress tips for choosing books for young readers.
1. Don’t choose for them. The most empowering thing you can do for a young reader is to let them choose for themselves. I know sometimes they only want to read books with kittens on the cover, or they only want to read picture books, or they only want to read graphic books. I don’t care and you shouldn’t either. If they are excited to read, be exited for them too.
2. Think outside! As a teacher I love taking reading to the museum or the beach… or the backyard. My field guides are beloved books and they absolutely count as reading. I’ve led kids on outdoor reading adventures with scavenger hunts, picnics, pet shop stops, beach walks, and stargazing.
3. Read socially… and share. I have to admit that my own kids are strongly influenced by what their friends are reading. I can try to push a book in my daughter’s direction for years with no success. She doesn’t care that I loved it. I’m her mom. But the second she finds out her best friend loves it she gets sucked into a magic book portal. I’m always trying to lead the conversation to books when other kids are around and I encourage my kids to swap books with friends!
4. Read aloud. Kids do not outgrow this. Ever. Reading the beginning of a book aloud and passing it on to a kid is a great way to invite them their next book. Get a stack of books, read the first paragraphs aloud, and see where they choose to dive in!
5. Read with relevance. What’s going on in your kid’s life? What are you celebrating? Where are you going, back to school or on a trip? When you choose books that are relevant in some way to your kid’s day-to- day life there can be built in interest!
6. Research read-alikes! In this age of the internet finding read-alikes is easy. What was the last book your young reader loved? Just search for that title along with the term read-alike!
7. Ask a librarian or a bookseller. There are people out in the world who have book-choosing magic. They can eye a kid up and down, ask a couple of questions and find them the perfect book. It’s like a super power. Don’t be shy. These people are just waiting to be asked!
8. Yes, use incentives! Whether it is through a local library reading program or your own ingenuity, offering incentives for meeting reading goals is great. I’ve always been a sucker for pretty pencils, silly stickers, and strawberry scented erasers. And remember, incentives don’t need to be fancy… they need to be fun!
9. Watch the movie… but only after you finish the book! This is our house rule and it’s great fun. We make finishing a book into a celebration—pop some popcorn and snuggle up! We’ve done Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Holes, Harry Potter, The Secret Garden, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe… you get the moving picture!
10. Have fun! I’m a big advocate for fun. If a book is boring (to your kid), let them put it down and choose again. Be silly. Read outside. Read together. Read in a tree. Read upside down. Read in a fort. Read with flashlights. Read by candlelight. Whatever you read, however you read, remember to have fun… it’s summer!
About the Author
I live in California with some chickens and a juvenile Sulcatta tortoise.
I’m a children’s book author, credentialed teacher,Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Backyard Naturalist volunteer, and a mom. My kids are always muddy and we are usually out in the garden. Coyotes cruise by stealing chickens, hawks dip in the sky looking for lizards, the quiet deer nibble from fruit trees, and every year new quail chicks are born out in the scrub!
Thanks to Robin for being a part of Tweens Read August! You can add The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez to Goodreads here! The author being featured tomorrow is Melanie Conklin. This post and the one coming up tomorrow are two of my favorite posts to come out of this event. Choosing books for young readers is something I’ve touched upon a few times, but Robin put it all together in a great list. And if you’re looking for more ideas, here’s a cute bingo chart she put together for summer reading: