Reaching Reluctant Readers by Cynthia Port

But I HATE reading . . .
A reluctant reader is anyone who does not show a natural interest in reading. This definition is very broad, encompassing children with learning disabilities and visual or psychomotor issues. But even when such issues are absent, a child may still treat reading like a chore, and I would know. Though we read equal numbers of books together, I have one child who did and one who did not experience an early love of reading. For the latter, trimming her toenails—for the third time—had more appeal than picking up a book.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way Home From The Library
With my reluctant reader, the keys to getting her into reading were books to rival the immediacy and entertainment value of any TV show or computer game. She started with simple graphic novels
that offer goofy humor and fewer than 20 words to a page—and even then I wasn’t entirely sure she was reading any of the words. I did not care. She was holding a book in her hands willingly. She was taking them to bed at night and then propping them up against the cereal box in the morning. She was letting me know when it was time to go back to the library. She even wanted to read the funniest parts to me.

I realize now that the graphic novels solved a common problem among reluctant readers: connecting text to meaning. For many children this process happens during the traditional picture book and early reader years. When it doesn’t, graphic novels can serve to ‘hold back’ a child without sentencing them to plots like “the puppy played in the mud and needed a bath”. Over several years, she increased both her reading speed and word to page ratio, and has moved toward regular fiction.

But even as the need for pictures faded, she still requires humor. Without something to tickle her funny bone, it doesn’t matter how thrilling a story is, my reluctant reader will likely find it dull.

My Kibble Talk series is not in graphic novel format, but I work carefully on the humor. If I can write books to hook reluctant readers, I’m pretty much guaranteed that avid readers will be gaga over them. It’s kind of like broccoli: find a recipe to please your pickiest eater, and you’ve found your whole family’s new go-to dish. And it all pays off when you get reviews and comments like these from teachers and parents:

I think teachers might use this book with reluctant readers.”

And even better:

My daughter has some dyslexia and dislikes reading, but she has read Kibble Talk at least a dozen times.”

And best of all:

I bought this book for my 12 year old granddaughter who hasn't read a book, other than what she had to at school, since she got her ipad at Christmas. All she ever wants to do is play games. But when she started reading Kibble Talk, she didn't put it down until she finished it. Please keep writing, Cynthia, our kids need you.

THAT is the sort of review that keeps an author sitting at her keyboard even when her toenails could really use a third trimming.

Living in the fossil-filled hills of Souther Indiana, Cynthia Port writes books for the young and the stubbornly young at heart. Her first book, Kibble Talk, was published in 2013. Dog Goner was published in 2014. The Kibble Talk series hooks readers with its humor and lively characters, but tucked between the laughs are important messages about self-acceptance and appreciating the very people we are most likely to take for granted.

Cynthia's website offers free printables of coloring pages and educational ideas (games, discussion points, etc.) that anyone can download. Also, if a group of homeschoolers reads Kibble Talk, Cynthia is happy to do a Skype author visit with them when they're done.

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