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Independent Reading II: Choice and Variety

This post is part of a series on independent reading.

In my last post I explained what a just right book is and how to help your child select books. This post will address having choice and variety in independent reading.

Independent reading is meant to be fun and interesting. Yes, I do mean fun. Struggling readers often do not understand that part because reading is laborious for them. However, once a child is matched with “just right” books, reading actually is fun. Part of the joy of independent reading is choice. Kids love having the chance to choose their activities instead of being told what to do. The same goes for reading books. Of course it’s good for children to be introduced to and expected to read certain books to broaden their horizons, but independent reading is not about being introduced to classics. It’s about reading books that interest you. If you love sports, you want to know more about sports stars. If you have a wild imagination, you might want to read fantasy books and get lost in a make believe world. Being able to choose books you want to read makes reading fun, and reading is fun because you are reading genres and topics that interest you.

Choice makes reading fun, but reading a variety of genres and authors keeps the interest alive. Think about what it would be like if you ate vanilla ice cream every day for a treat. It tastes good every time you have it but you start to lose interest in it after a while. The same goes for reading. A reader will eventually get bored with reading if s/he reads exactly the same kind of books every day. New genres about the same topic add a twist. Books on the same topic but written by different authors open a reader to new perspectives.

You don’t have to worry about telling your child what to read. Your job is to encourage your child to read what s/he wants to read while experimenting with genre, topic, and author.

Happy reading!