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Home  >  Reading and Writing  >  Inspiring Readers
Thoughts From a School Librarian
By Alice Knapp

I have the philosophy that kids are more apt to become lifelong enthusiastic readers if they are allowed to read what they most enjoy reading. I often tell my younger students this line: "The more you read, the better you read; the better you read, the more you'll read." If you think about the reading you most enjoy it is probably not reading that is overly challenging but more like "vacation reading:" a good mystery, thriller, or romance novel. Kids are no different. If the reading is always tough for them they are much less likely to want to read for fun.
Alice Knapp reads Anna's Athabascan Summer to her students at Mirror Lake.

I feel one of my main goals as a school librarian is to foster in my students a love for reading. It would be great if all kids read the classics. I realize, however, if Goosebumps, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Babysitter Club books, and comics are what they most want to read they should be encouraged to do that. If you can get them hooked on books, don't worry so much what they are reading because eventually they will start to branch out into better literature with gentle guidance.

I don't set checkout limits as long as parents are comfortable with being responsible for ten or more books. The younger the child the more books they should be allowed to check out. Any parent of preschoolers and kindergartners realizes you can easily go through ten books in one night. The more exposure to books of all sorts, the better. Some kids are natural nonfiction readers, other prefer magazines, while many like "picture books"--at a very early age these preferences become evident and if you want your child to become an avid reader, encourage them to pursue their particular interests, even if it drives you nuts!

A final note, just because your child can read doesn't mean you should stop reading to them at night. This is perhaps the most rewarding time you spend with your child each day and by reading to your child he or she can be exposed to a variety of books that they might not self-select. Reading regularly to your child has been proven in reading research to be the highest correlation with children becoming successful readers. Many children learn to read before they step into a school due in part to a home environment rich in modeled reading. Most young children like to emulate their parents; if reading is a part of your life, your child will most likely pick up your habits.

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About the Author: Alice Knapp is a librarian at Anchorage's Chugach Optional Elementary.

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