So maybe you’re like I was and you have a child or two or four who missed out on non-fiction as a tot.
Here are some ideas that have gotten my older kids excited about non-fiction:
- library Trips: If you take your children to the library or book store on a regular basis, along with their fictional selections, require them to select (and read) at least one non-fiction book and then share what they learned.
- The Internet: Use technology to your advantage. Find video clips on the web (www.youtube.com and http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/kids/?source=NavVidKids are two good sources among many) that teach about subjects that may interest your child. As they learn more on-screen, they will be primed to read more off-screen.
- DVDs – Find entertaining DVDs made for children to introduce non-fictional subjects. The Magic School Bus is a great cartoon series that uses a fictional plot to introduce a scientific concept. Again, this kind of introduction will prime the pump for more serious reading.
- Historical and Scientific Fiction – Nope, not a typo, I’m not talking Ray Bradbury here. This genre tackles a non-fiction subject and weaves a fictional story into it. The American Girls series, Classical Kids, and The Magic School Bus are all examples of this. Ask your librarian for more series in this realm.
- Field Trips – There’s nothing like the promise of a trip to the zoo to spark the interest of a child in all things animal. Make a chart of the topics you want your child to read up on and label it with the title of the associated field trip. When all the topics or books have been read up on and checked off, it’s time to go on the field trip.
- Find out what interests your child and have him read up on those subjects. The biggest hurdle in getting older children to read non-fiction is getting them to open the book and turn the page. It is not so much what non-fiction they read as it is that they are willing to read non-fiction. Does your 8-year-old love Legos? Give him a copy of The Ultimate Lego Book. Is your child into magic? How about a biography on Harry Houdini?
- Have your child read a children’s biography of their favorite author (and then stand back because they will commence to read every book ever written by said author). I watched my 18-year-old do this in junior high with Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) and Louisa May Alcott (Little Women).
- Do first, then read. Andres (8) showed no interest in a great book we had on electricity until he got a snap circuit set for Christmas. Now he takes his electricity book to bed with him at night. Enough said.
Your turn: What non-fiction books held your attention as a kid, and what kinds of non-fiction are your kids reading?