Something different to read

If you were to ask my fourth and fifth grade students what they think is fun to read, you're likely to hear the following among the titles:  Bone, Big Nate, Amulet, Babymouse, comic books.

Many parents and teachers ask my what I think of these books- and tell me of the concern that their children aren't reading "more challenging" books.

My question: If they wanted to read these or nothing, what would you want?
Answer is almost always: read these!

So what is the objection to these books with panels, and pictures? With words in bubbles? When I pull them out and share them with people, they quickly see that kids can't get the full meaning from either the pictures or the bubbles. Reading these books requires thinking and applying what they are seeing. Reading these books for meaning deepens inferring skills. And often, kids view them as fun.

Inevitably it happens. "But, Mrs. Ramsey, I've read all of the........ Can you find me something different?" Sometimes, I'll take them to a non-fiction of similar style. Sometimes, I'll branch them into a different series- still in their boldly graphic style. Emerald City of Oz, Sherlock Holmes, Sardine, Comic Squad, Ariol, Lunch Lady, Daniel Boom, Dinosaurs, Max Finder.  "No. Mrs. Ramsey, I'm ready for something different. Can you help me find a good book with chapters?"

And so, a reader is born. When given the freedom to choose, without judgment, without chastisement, without limits, kids read. Kids read a lot, and they gain the voice to advocate for what they want next: something different.


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