Finding the right book

A love of reading doesn’t always come naturally; sometimes kids need a little help

As a parent and book lover, I find it frustrating that my 17-year-old son refuses to read.

When he and his sister were little, my husband or I would read them a bedtime story every night, as many parents do. Both kids loved it, but they had different interests. She enjoyed books about princesses, but also stuff that was a bit dark. Coraline by Neil Gaiman was her absolute favourite around age 9. He liked stories that made him laugh. We would read the Sandra Boynton books repeatedly. When he was 10, we read the Bone graphic novels and we both loved author Jeff Smith’s strange, funny world.

When the kids reached the tween years, the time when they would normally be starting to read on their own, both lost interest.

My daughter, now 19, found her love of reading again in an unexpected way. Due to a zip-lining mishap in Grade 6, she ended up with a concussion and unable to have screen time for a week. I took the opportunity to introduce her to audiobooks. With nothing to do but rest, she listened to audiobook after audiobook. First, there was Cinder by Marissa Meyer and then Graceling by Kristin Cashore. She wanted more. Once she was better, she started picking up books and devoured the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. She’s still an avid reader.

My son has yet to find his hook. I’m a firm believer in the J.K. Rowling quote: “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”

So, I keep trying. Spy books. Mysteries. Fantasy. Nothing grabs his attention. When he was forced to read a book in Grade 8 for class, I gave him my copy of Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. He loved it and talked about it for days. I heard him laughing in his room on countless occasions. Although he says he’s read other books for school, I suspect Alexie’s might be the only novel he has read cover to cover. Perhaps funny books are the key.

This is why I love the idea of the Funny Pages Festival. As event organizer Vicki Grant says, “Not all kids love books, but all kids love to laugh.” Held at the Halifax Central Library in April, the festival offered an opportunity for kids to find stories that appealed to them. They were also introduced to some fabulous local authors. See Ameeta Vohra’s story “A gateway to reading” on page 8.

Books are more than entertainment. In this issue, we look at titles that focus on helping the 2SLGBTQIA+ teen community better express its identity. See Lindsey Bunin’s story “Understanding pronouns” on page 20.

This is my first issue as editor of this wonderful parenting magazine, and I hope you enjoy it. Please reach out if you have story or column ideas for future issues. Enjoy!

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