The Big Read Blog (Archive)


April 14, 2009
Washington, DC

Even though many of the selected Big Read texts are geared toward middle school through adult readers, communities find many inventive ways to involve little readers -- from reading companion books to art activities based on the novels to family-friendly Big Read-themed parties. Veteran Big Reader Marie Pyko, from the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, shared these tips for getting families and children involved in reading year round.

1. Pick books that you loved as a child and share them with your children. Then take a book cherished by your child and agree to read it on your own. Discuss each book, what each of you liked or didn?t like about the story.  My mom grew up in England and so she and I rarely read the same books when I was growing up.  One birthday she gave me a copy of Enid Blyton?s Famous Five adventure series, which I devoured in very little time. I shared a Nancy Drew mystery with her and we spent an entire Saturday afternoon sharing the two stories.  We learned that even though they were set in different countries and different time periods a good mystery and adventure is timeless.

2. Challenge your young adult to an intergenerational book club. Spend some time talking about favorite books and offer to read the hot new teen book along with your young adult.  For our first Big Read, everyone in our community was encouraged to read and discuss Their Eyes Were Watching God. I met one family who decided to take Zora Neale Hurston?s cherished book and make it a family event. All four family members -- including two high schoolers -- picked up a copy of the book and read it during the month of February. They also attended the lecture with Lucy Anne Hurston and joined one of the book discussions hosted at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. The family had such a good time with the Big Read that they talked about reading something picked by the kids next, such as a Harry Potter novel or something by Chris Crutcher.

3. For reluctant readers, provide opportunities to read in a non-traditional book form, such as a cool magazine, a comic book, or a book based on popular television characters. My brother was a truly reluctant reader, but a huge sports fan. My mom picked up Sports Illustrated for Kids when he was 8 or 9, and he has been reading Sports Illustrated ever since. Now I actually see him as an adult reading "real books."