Parents and teachers will try almost anything to encourage children to read more, and books that fall into the category of sports-mystery appeal to children on several levels. The most important level is always that the story is fun to read. Forget examples of high moral character or learning about historic events – is this book fun? Am I loving it?
Only if the answer is “yes” does anything else become important. We need to be able to read – menus, road signs, job applications – and for anyone who can read easily, life itself becomes easier. It’s one less thing to worry about. It’s important to learn to read, and the faster you can read, the better. It’s “pleasure reading” that helps a child achieve that goal.
Pleasure Reading Reinforces the Skill Learned at School
Children read at school, but can avoid reading outside school for quite a long time, and that means the learning that takes place in school is not reinforced. And that’s not good. You want reading to become easy enough that the story unfolds inside the child’s head like watching his own private TV show. When a child can read that fast, every subject at school becomes easier.
In “pleasure reading,” there is no test afterwards. There is no danger of being called upon to stand up and read for the class; there are no questions about the theme of the story. Reading for fun creates a more relaxed and less stressful atmosphere than reading to learn something in particular followed by a test and than a judgment made about the test results. The only question the child ever has to answer is, “Did you like the book?” And that’s an easy one to answer.
A sports-mystery provides a strong motivation for reading because the mystery provides a framework that will hold a child’s attention; the sports theme is one to which children can always relate. All children play games, even if they don’t play an organized sport, and they all know what is feels like to win and to lose, to be treated fairly and to be treated unfairly. They understand and sympathize with the characters who are challenged when playing a game and challenged within the sports world.
Books Teach Children How to Help Each Other
Children who play organized sports learn how to cope with adult weaknesses often revealed during games and practices. We’ve all seen coaches, referees, and parent-fans fall apart and behave badly under the pressure of winning, losing, and dealing with unfairness directed at them, their team, or their children. Fortunately, the coaches help children understand the game, the parents’ reactions, and the attitudes of referees; the parents help the children understand the coaches; and the referees help youngsters understand the rules and how to ignore unruly fans, even if they are moms and dads and coaches.
It all helps. No sense in pretending to kids that adults always behave with wisdom and maturity. You can’t sell that one even to an eight year old. Plus, a lot of problems occur on the playing field, or on the ice, or in the gym that are observed and understood only by the youngsters involved. Many times, the solution to the problem involves children helping each other.
Reading stories that demonstrate how children cope with their problems and help each other gives children hope that they can deal with their problems, too, whatever they are. When you add the element of solving a mystery to all that, the book is a winner that will hook a child on reading: “Quick, tell me, tell me – what happens next? Who did it?”
Choose a children’s mystery for the youngster on your gift list and motivate the child to read more and read faster.
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