I have not always loved to read. When I was in the fifth grade I distinctly remember hating to write book reports because I would have to read. However, fifth grade was also a pivotal year because I read a book all the way to the end. Before that crucial moment all of my book reports were based on jacket flaps. I can’t remember the author or the name of the book that piqued my interest in reading but I do remember it was about a girl my age who knew how I felt and liked what I liked. The author did a wonderful job leading a reluctant reader down a path of adventure.
Fast forward to 2008. Young reluctant readers (also known as Hi/Lo readers) are on the rise and there is a great need for authors to write in this unique genre. Reluctant readers read both fiction and non-fiction. According to Elizabeth Kennedy of About.com in her article of Resources for Reluctant Readers there are several different types of reluctant readers according to the experts.
*Children who are intelligent and interested but don’t read well.
*Children who have no interest and are at risk of failing.
*Children who deal with specific learning problems.
*A child who reads well but has little interest.
Are you a writer who would like to help this type of reader? I found a helpful article by Lori Jameson and Paul Kropp on Reading Rockets: Hooking Struggling Readers. Writers of controlled-readability materials must be aware that the interest of a book must be held all the way through. Authors of regular novels can spend more time describing characters, scenery and background but an author of a Hi/Lo book has to keep the plot spinning to keep a reluctant reader’s attention.
To find out the science behind books for reluctant readers and free materials for teachers and parents go to H-I-P (High Interest Publishing) and visit Lori Jameson and Paul Kropp at HIP-Books. This information is a great start on researching how to write for reluctant readers of all ages.
An author needs to make the reader care what happens to the characters. Making connections from one's own experience to the text is an important reading strategy and a basic literacy skill. It is a challenge but that is what writing is about. Creating and challenging. If you can help a child relate to experiences in a book they may be able to stretch their reading curve up a grade level or two.
Write it down,