Focus on Kids Who Read With Reluctance

In the lead-up to the Children’s Book Festival on Sunday, Chris Morphew is blogging this week on the website of ABC Radio National’s Book Show.

Chris is a young adult author who’ll be appearing at the festival on Sunday. He wrote the first four titles in the smash-hit Zac Power Mega Missions series. He has since written a total of 12 Zac Power books as well as six titles in the popular series The Phoenix Files.

Chris writes for a segment of the children’s book market educational experts have come to call the reluctant reader. There are several kinds of reluctant readers: smart kids who like books but who read with difficulty; kids, some of whom can read well, who aren’t interested and thus at risk of falling behind; and kids with learning problems that impede their reading. Fortunately there’s a wealth of websites, research and resources to help teachers and parents with reluctant readers.

On the subject of how he came to write for reluctant readers, Chris comments, “I’ve never made any conscious decision to create a career out of writing for reluctant readers. It all happened more or less by accident … I am constantly amazed by the number of humbling, heart-warming emails I receive from parents of formerly-reluctant readers – or even from the children themselves – telling me how The Phoenix Files has helped to change their mind about books…

“But it does make me wonder if we have a tendency to get a bit too fixated on uncovering a magic formula for ‘curing’ reluctant readers when, at least for some of them, the solution may simply be a case of finding the right book for the right child…

“Reluctant readers are not some peculiar alien species with an entirely different way of interacting with texts. If they’re going to connect with a story, they’ll do it for the same reasons that all of us do: characters we can fall in love with, plotlines that make us think and dream and gasp and wonder, expressions of hope and redemption that shine light out into the darkness of the world.”

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