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kristin0713

literature for picky 11yo boy

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My DS hates almost every book I give him.   The one "acceptable" book he read this year was a biography of The Wright Brothers.  Last year, the only book he liked was Crocodile Attack (Extreme Adventures series).  My DD read and loved every book that came through our door, but he would point to them all and say they're all dumb.  He does enjoy reading Hardy Boys with DH, but I think those are still a little above his comprehension level. Any suggestions?  

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From your post, it sounds like your DS strongly prefers nonfiction to fiction. You might try including more nonfiction; realistic or adventure fiction; science or nature-based fiction, and detective/mystery fiction in his assigned school reading. Things like:
Bomb (nonfiction)
- My Side of the Mountain or Hatchet (realistic/adventure)
- The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (science/nature based fiction)
- The Baker Street Irregulars (detective fiction)

Magazines can be a great way of keeping a non-reader reading -- the articles are short, there are lots of photos/illustrations, and the topics are usually high interest. Perhaps consider subscribing to several different magazines. Ideas:
- Muse (science)
- Zoo Books (animals)
- Dig (archeology/history)
- Cobblestone (history)
- National Geographic for Kids (many topics)
- Kids Discover (many topics)
- Boys Life (outdoors)
- Time for Kids (current events)

You might also do your own reading incentive/reward program at home. For each book read (without complaint, lol), he gets to add a sticker or check off a box, and earn the reward. Start off with each book read (without complaint) gets a small reward (gets to choose what's for dinner or pick the movie or game for the family game or movie night; trip to get ice cream or pizza; earn $2; etc.). After a few books, have it take 2-3 books to reach the next prize, which is a slightly bigger prize. Etc.

Another idea to help increase the possible books he might like is to have DS make his own reading challenge (could do this in conjunction with the reading incentive idea above, or as a separate idea). Have him start by compiling a big list of book types/genres. Then, for each month, he picks one genre, and he chooses 2-3 books out of that genre at the library, and once home, has to finish one of those books (checking out several gives him some options in case 1-2 of the books are real duds). Over the course of the school year, he'll read through a variety of types/genres. Perhaps he could give a slideshow presentation at the end of the year about the different types/genres and what was enjoyable/not enjoyable about each. (:D

Book types/genre ideas:
- nonfiction
- historical fiction
- detective/mystery
- science fiction
- fantasy
- myth / fairy tale / folktale
- western
- horror
- adventure
- realistic
- poetry

The "books are dumb" comment is probably just a normal younger brother reaction against anything older sibling likes, LOL. But there's always a slim chance that the comment might come out "masking" -- if he's not able to read very well, he may disguise that by scoffing at or dismissing the entire activity of reading.

Another thought: if Hardy Boys books are a little above his comprehension level at age 11yo, he *might* be delayed in reading, or even have a slight disability (vision convergence, low comprehension / processing / memory, stealth dyslexia, etc.) which would make reading uncomfortable or frustrating. If you suspect that might be a possibility, then it could be good to get him tested to rule that out -- or if he does have an issue, then you can get the helps for him that could make reading an easier activity for him.

Finally, he might just not be a big fan of reading as an enjoyed activity -- lots of people (students and adults) fall in this category -- they would just rather do other things. I'd encourage you to come alongside and together read out loud  "popcorn style" ("you read a page, I read a page") for some of his assigned books with him (esp. fiction or other titles he thinks are "dumb"), as that can make the reading go faster and easier and a bit more enjoyably. (Sounds like he enjoys doing this with dad and together reading Hardy Boys.) It would also help you see if he has any reading struggles, and you can also do some vocabulary learning and very gentle literary analysis/discussion "in the moment".

I'd encourage still doing read-alouds and having a solo reading time from choice of book basket books, but perhaps keep those sessions shorter (maybe just 20-30 min), to accommodate if he just has a lower preference for reading as an activity.

And free-reading is just that -- child chooses -- or NOT -- to read during free time activity, at bed time, etc. And if choosing to read, child chooses *what* to read. For example, my DSs were not big readers at that age, but enjoyed Calvin and Hobbes and Foxtrot comic collections, at that age as frequent bed time reading. I was just happy they were choosing to *read* something, lol, and Calvin and Hobbes actually has some pretty sophisticated discussions in it from time to time.

Just my 2 cents worth. BEST of luck! Warmly, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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Thanks, Lori!  You are right that he does prefer nonfiction.  I have spent countless hours pouring over book lists and I bring home piles of books for him from every genre.  I just asked him if he thinks that Hardy Boys is hard to read, and he said no, but he prefers to read them (shared) with DH.  We do a lot of that when he complains through a book just so I can get him through it.  I don't think he has any delays or dyslexia.  I do have some Abeka comprehension skills books that I will go through with him just to check.  His visual and spatial skills are incredible.  I really think he is just picky, and maybe lazy with reading.  

"Bomb" looks like something he would like--I just reserved it at the library!  THANKS!

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45 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

The Baker Street Irregulars

Can you link this?  I'm getting lots of different books on amazon. 

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1 minute ago, kristin0713 said:

... he does prefer nonfiction....
...I really think he is just picky, and maybe lazy with reading...
... "Bomb" looks like something he would like--I just reserved it at the library! 


Check out this past thread for more ideas: "Recommendations for narrative nonfiction true books for grades 4-7".

Also: DSs enjoyed nonfiction books like this one and  Great Escapes of World War II (by Sullivan) and fictionalized nonfiction like Behind Rebel Lines (by Reit), Heart of a Samurai (by Winged Watchmen (by Van Stockum), or fictional realistic survival stories like The Big Wave (by Buck) or Heart of a Samurai

Also, A Long Walk to Water (by Park) is fiction, but it is a mix of a fictional story interspersed with the true survival story of Salva Dut. My 7th graders last year found it absolutely riveting, and it is a fast, easy read. A little harder to read because of the Caribbean accent, but equally absorbing is The Cay (by Taylor) -- a shipwreck survival story -- also really loved by my 7th graders last year.

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2 minutes ago, kristin0713 said:

Can you link this?  I'm getting lots of different books on amazon. 


Robert Newman wrote the original book (here's a paperback edition), and went on to write about 5-6 sequels. Years later, other authors have added to the "world" with additional books. My DS#1 who loved mysteries loved the first book and some of Newman sequels. We never saw the other author books, as it looks like those were published when he was beyond that series and was in high school/graduated. :)

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1 hour ago, kristin0713 said:

... he prefers to read them (shared) with DH.  We do a lot of that when he complains through a book just so I can get him through it...
... I don't think he has any delays or dyslexia...
... I really think he is just picky, and maybe lazy with reading...


If he's just lazy and picky, then I'd keep doing some of the reading aloud together, but I'd also let him know that you've done a load of research to try and find books to suit him, so now it's on him to "suck it up buttercup" and complaining is no longer allowed, lol.

I love the idea that one mom on these boards did: She lined up a row of M&Ms or chocolate chips (I forget how many), and let the child know that the child could have all of the treats as a reward for NOT whining/complaining at the end of the period of time of working on that school subject -- BUT, each time the child whined or complained, MOM got to eat one of the treats. The key is when child whines/complains, without saying anything, take and eat one of the treats, but in a way where the child sees what is happening. It is a quiet visual reminder to help the child become aware of their attitude and words. (And a treat for mom during the process of having to endure child learning to have self-control over attitude/words (:D )

Edited by Lori D.
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