Thursday, September 17, 2009

Literacy Triggers—What Book Turned Your Kid On to Reading?

My oldest child hasn’t been without a book to read since she first cracked open Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. For her (and I suspect millions of other kids), Harry Potter was what I call a literacy trigger. A story that became so fused with her imagination that it let her become part of another world, a chapter at a time. She enjoyed the experience so much she didn’t want it to end once she was through with all the Harry Potter books. She moved on to The Series of Unfortunate Events, The Last Olympian Series, The Twilight Series, Cressida Cowell’s Heroic Misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous series, and every Eva Ibbotson book she could lay her hands on.

I was sure my middle child would have a similar literacy trigger as my first—that the boy wizard would draw her into the reading. Not so. In fact, I’ve had a much more difficult time finding a book that will help her graduate from children’s books to chapter books. So far, she’s tolerated the Magic Treehouse series, but she’d much rather hang out with Olivia. I’m trying a new method this week, however, partly because I want to make sure she does develop a love of learning and maybe even more, because I love reading out loud the adventures of Hiccup Horrendous, one of the funniest Vikings around.

My youngest is still too young to have had her true literacy trigger. But I’m already convinced she’ll be a reader. She insists I read a book to her each night. And on those rare occasions where we miss bedtime and it’s too late for a story, she cries like I’ve thrown out her favorite teddy bear.

How about your kids? Have you discovered their literacy triggers?

And don’t forget to enter ReadyMom’s LeapFrog Tag Reading System giveaway.


  1. For my son, it was the Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey. As a mom, I had to do some accepting for this! Reading books like these with graphics and "cool" (disgusting) things in them really works for boys. My son is now 11 and is a huge reader. He's reading Huck Finn currently.

  2. One of my sons was totally into Captain Underpants -- and I loved it! The other was all about animals. Period. Still is at age 16.

  3. Our kids came to the US from Russia at almost 11 and 14 - and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish was a fave for many weeks as they began to immerse themselves in the many complexities of English :)

  4. Whenever I put my children to bed (they're now in their 20s, I'd always put some books in with them - even when they were in their cribs. When they were old enough to sit up on their own, I'd always catch them thumbing through the books, even though they couldn't read yet. I think that gave them a very early appreciation for books~!

  5. I know a lot of people don't like this series, but my daughter is into Junie B. Jones. She thinks Junie is hilarious, and it hasn't hurt her grammar one bit. ;-)

  6. I've heard about the Junie B. criticisms too--same argument against Captain Underpants, but like you, I we read them (and enjoy them) at our house.

  7. My son who is my oldest is a big reader and at 13 he still reads those Harry Potter books over and over. He is the kind of kid who gets in trouble for reading books in class instead of paying attention and is rarely seen with out a book.

    My second child, who is now almost 10 is just not as big a reader. It took her a longer time to become a proficient. Even through the end of 2nd grade she was still not fluent and could not read out loud very well.

    Something happened at the beginning of 3rd grade and things just clicked. She ended up moving up a reading group in school and all of a sudden became more of a reader. While she is not like her brother she definitely enjoys to read and finds books that she really loves. She prefers books about real people as opposed to Harry Potter type fantasy books. She loves Judy Blume books and really enjoyed the whole Little House on the Prairie series (as did I).

    My 2nd grader is somewhere in between the two of them. She has been enjoying the Ivy and Bean series and the Rainbow Fairy series both of which your daughter might enjoy.

    I tried to lay off my older daughter re: reading. I tried to read to her when I could but with 4 kids (2 younger than her), I never did it as much as I thought I should. I tried to offer her interesting books to read, not always successfully. I assumed that she would pick it up eventually and was thankfully right!