Enjoy NF together (reluctant reader series tip 5)

Kids are born learners. Think about the newest baby you’ve ever met. Did you look into their eyes? Did you feel their tiny grasp around your finger? Have you seen a toddler develop a sense of humor? Do you remember when a child shocked you with a complex insight? Learning is in our DNA! Removing reading obstacles in order to tap into that drive will lead to a deeper appreciation for books.

Reluctant reader tip #5: enjoy non-fiction together.

You might not think you’re a keen non-fiction reader. You may be more of a novel lover yourself. But the fact is that non-fiction brings people together. It helps them find common ground. It gives them something to laugh about. Striking up a conversation about a bit of news you’ve heard recently, or sharing a weird fact about frogs drinking through their skin, breaks the ice. We are living non-fiction lives and learning all the time.

When you head to the library with your child, check out the Juvenile Non-Fiction section. Animals are a crowd-pleasing place to start. You may find how to books, literary non-fiction, books with infographics or photographs, and even poetry. Or you can take my approach and wander in without having a particular topic in mind! Since my shelf browsing time at the library is limited, one trick I use as I glance down the aisle is to look for NF books that are shelved sideways. Big books often have unique features, exceptional illustrations, clever layouts, or other attributes that make them inviting to the book-averse. Plus…isn’t it fun to look through a huge book? You can look for these yourself while the kids browse on their own. At home you can lay them open on the table or in the living room. Huge books are perfect for sharing with friends; one of my favorite sights is a crowd of kids gathered around an enormous book, jabbering and pointing and flipping the pages.

Your child does not have to decode every word on the page to read the book. He can read the pictures. He can retell the story. If it helps, you can mentally substitute the phrase “read the book” with “enjoy the book.” And then you can enjoy the book together! Non-fiction titles are often very difficult to read but they remain popular because they are just so darn enjoyable to share with people you love. With reluctant readers at home, resist the urge to teach (“See this heading? That’s a non-fiction feature!”) and let them lead. Make the enjoyment of the book the only priority in that moment.

As always, I want to urge you that all of this is as relevant for teenagers as it is for little kids. You never outgrow scintillating facts and remarkable photography.

Does your kid have a favorite sub-genre within NF? Do you? Let me know if you try the big book trick!

Here are some NF books my kids (or students) have enjoyed:

Up next in the reluctant reader series: enjoying wordless picture books! This genre is a favorite of mine and I contend there isn’t a person in this world too old to enjoy a wordless book.

This series originally appeared on Facebook and Instagram under the hashtag #lovereluctantreaders. If you’d like to start at the beginning of the series on the blog you can click here.