My 7 year old happens to be male and, without wishing to resort to stereotypes, his relationship with books (and indeed with learning as a whole) has always been different to his sister’s. He has always adored stories but the desire to read them for himself did not show until he was six (as opposed to his sister who could read before she started school, due to her own determination). For a long time, the stories he enjoyed were largely read to him by me, and there were some that he couldn’t get enough of. Room on the Broom, for example, was a bedtime staple for many months when he was two, to the extent that he was soon able to recite it, almost word for word.
Nowadays, he is a proficient reader and happily reads chapter books to himself, though he is quite picky about what he will read – it has to really grab his attention. I asked him last night if he could find for me his 7 favourite chapter books (I quickly had to specify only one book per author to prevent this post becoming a Harry Potter biography) and this is the stack he selected:
Daisy and the Trouble with Zoos by Kes Gray
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Ultimate Football Heroes: Messi by Matt and Tom Oldfield
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Mr. Stink by David Walliams
Mr. Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire by Andy Stanton
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
The overwhelming theme here is humour; find a book that can make my son laugh and he will be hooked. We have read all of the Mr. Gum books (personally, I’m not a fan, but the kids LOVE them) and listened to most of them on Audible as well and they always make Sonny laugh. Audible is an app that I absolutely adore and that the children are both addicted to – they listen to stories on it every single night without fail. Interestingly, the Messi book aside, we have listened to all of these books on Audible (though we read them all first) and I wonder if that is what made them stand out to Sonny. He prefers listening to audiobooks to any other form of reading, though he did spend Mother’s Day devouring the Messi book and managed to finish it in less than 24 hours. I used to be a bit of a snob when it came to audobooks and didn’t feel they were quite as beneficial to a child as actually reading, but the stories are still digested, the vocabulary, grammar and structure still as present as if on the page. Though I can’t imagine ever choosing an audio download over a physical book myself, I am more of a convert these days and would definitely recommend audiobooks to anyone who struggles with a child who shows little interest in reading and/or books. I suspect they can be a useful gateway to other forms of reading and may engage children who might otherwise miss out on the magic and escapism of being transported to another world.
What do you think of Sonny’s choices? What books do your children like to read?