Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Knowing the Reader

In all my preparations for this coming year, I always keep in mind that, as much as I know what 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders USUALLY read, I don't KNOW my kids this year yet.

I love the first few days of school for that reason. I get to sit with new friends and get to know them. I get to hear what they like, don't like, where they feel they excel and struggle...

and then I go to work finding books that match.

Yes, I probably know more children's books than the average person, but there are tons out there, and I couldn't possibly know them all.

So where do I turn?

Local bookstores have book buyers whose job is to find great books, read them, and review them. I love independent bookstores (sorry Barnes and Noble!) -- they have great selection, and it isn't just the "bestsellers." What's popular isn't the only good thing written out there.

My favorite bookstore (I worked there one summer and never made a penny - my whole paycheck went to buying books) in Pasadena was Vromans. It was awesome walking into the children's section and having ANYONE - they weren't just cashiers - be able to converse and recommend books.

Now I have Austin's own BookPeople - very similar. You walk in there and just want to hang out and read.

But if you don't have those kind of bookstores, Amazon has reviews by readers - that can be very helpful.

Another option - I ask other kids. Many times they have latched onto a series I had yet to discover.

First step - listen to the child - help them discover what they are passionate about (many times they don't know yet). Find out what makes them tick, lose track of time, focus undisturbed.

Then you can take that knowledge and find the books that get them reading.

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