Booklist Webcast – Reaching Reluctant Readers: Using High-Interest Fiction to Engage and Inspire on Vimeo
Looking for some library training, I came across something that struck me; reluctant readers. My very first book was a Golden Book called Scuffy The Tugboat. However, from that early age, I remembered not reading much until I got into comic books. Back then, many were snobbish about the value of comic books. Granted, I was not reading the classic children books but yet, I was reading.
I had always know the value of books but never could finish one all the way through. My first true book I forced myself to get through was The Ghost of Flight 401. Even though I had a great sense of accomplishments and OMG moments along the way; even this was not enough of a push for me to read books. I went back to my comics.
When the second Star Wars movie came out, which is really the fifth movie, I fell in love with The Empire Strikes Back. Marvel Comics made an adaptation of the movie into a graphic novel but in a novel format. Way back when, there were no dvds, no internet, no vcrs, there was nothing to recapture the magic of watching this movie. If I wanted to see this again, I had to plunk down my money and go to the theater. Or, plunk down my money on this novel which I could take anywhere with me, skip to my favorite parts or just read the book from cover to cover. I had the time of my life because it was so visual. Yet, there was a negative connotation I had with Empire. My biological father would get on my case about reading it all the way through in a sitting. I never cared for the man, using the word loosely, but did was I was told.
Rather than going forward, I went back to comics. One of my favorite comic book series was The X-Men a la Chris Claremont. The Dark Phoenix saga was one of those moments were I will never recover from. I loved Jean Grey and the fact that she was killed in front of Scott Summers was truly heartbreaking. I loved DC comics but Marvel really got to me first.
Now to high school, here was another area of opprotunity for me to be engaged with reading books. This never happened here either except for my final senior year. There were two English teachers that had an incredible impact on me and sadly could only remember one name; Mrs. Farber. Before we started to read this one book that she sweared will change and be affected by was Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. And she was right. The fact that the entire class worked together and there was discussion about each chapter helped me to get an understand of a tragic character. The second book or rather play was Macbeth. The second English teacher also broke down the story in different ways. We read, we watched a video and listened a record which helped to give Macbeth life in this yet otherwise tragic character. (Do you see a pattern of dark storylines and characters? Hmmm.)And yet, nothing for several years was enough to make me a true reader.
In 1987, we get a new Star Trek series called Star Trek: The Next Generation (STTNG). I had always been a Trek and a scifi fan but not until 1988 where I went into a drug store and bought a STTNG paperback. There were two reasons for the purchase – 1) My mom was in the hospital, if I remembered correctly, and wanted something to kill some time. 2)The character Lt. Tasha Yar was killed off in the first season of STTNG and knew in this book that she was still alive. (Sounds like shades of Misery). I started to read it and I could hear the characters come alive in my head with their words. In addtion, I saw probably for the first time visual images in my head. This book became alive to tell me a story just for me. And that’s when, I got it. I became a reader. From that point on, I continued to read a great number of Trek books. I had also moved on to other scifi series books. Basically, the floodgates were now open. I moved into reading about filmmaking, science, and drawing. Several years later, I found myself working for Borders Book Shop in Miami. Many years after that, I became a librarian with a push my wife who is also a librarian.
The whole point of this piece has to do with those kids who can’t or won’t read on their own. The presentation below does bring up points why certain kids are reluctant readers. The basic premise to help overcome this problem is to find something, anything, that can get that kid interested to pick up a book. For me, comics books was my lead into reading but not until STTNG was on the air and couldn’t get enough that I turned to reading to get my fill. Whether the library has videogames or dvds, there is almost always a piece of literature associated with that media. The job of a librarian is to be open and aware of all the different jump off point reluctant readers dive into.