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#1 of 5 Old 06-06-2012, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
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First things first: I mean literature in the loosest sense.


Ray Bradbury died.  His books were introduced to me by my 7th grade Reading teacher, who was a big sci-fi fan.  She had tremendous influence in the books I read, and I naturally thought about her when stories of Ray Bradbury aired on NPR.


As an unschooler, I started thinking about the other places outside of the school environment that influenced my reading.  My mother was a voracious reader, and often passed her books to me (not.... always.... age..... appropriate!)  We visited the library regularly when I was older, not so much when I was younger.  I often just grabbed a good-looking book from the shelf of the bookstore.  It was in this way I discovered Susan Cooper's books, Lloyd Alexander.  I often picked up a book following a movie (and still do).


So, I'm thinking of how my burgeoning readers might discover their own books.  My oldest is nearing that level in reading where confidence and skill come together and interest in reading books explodes (well, for lots of kids anyhow.)  


How have your kids discovered books?  I'm especially interested in child-led exploration, and casual influences from adults.  Or did they choose a particular class or curriculum for themselves?  What led them to do that?  How did you explore books on your own when you were growing up?

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#2 of 5 Old 06-06-2012, 08:50 PM
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I found my own way.  As a kid in grades 1-5 or so I was limited to the kids library section, after about age 10 I just say 'forget it' and started getting books from anywhere I could.  I had controlling parents, not concerned or interested parents.  I loved to read and would read darn near anything.  As a teen and young adult I went through everything - VC Andrews was HUGE in Jr High.  Now I go back and forth between some non-fiction topics that I love, murder/romance fiction and 'womens fiction'.


As for my kiddo.  I let him take the lead.  He has certain areas/topics that he loves and collects books on (anything french related).  Other times he is just reading a Series or something with a movie tie in.


We tend to hang out in libraries and bookstores.  My kid has no shortage of books: library, personal and E-books.  He's been reading about 1000 pages a week , every week for the past couple years.


On a rare occasion I will try to sneak something in for school or suggest something but its 50/50 with approval from the kiddo.


I did have success with the 'newberry' award books last season

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#3 of 5 Old 06-07-2012, 10:15 AM
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I read voraciously throughout childhood; my parents read to me a lot and I picked up things on my own.  I'd find a book or author I liked and work my way down the shelf in the library I'd found it on.  I'd find a book that was part of an edited series or collection and read everything else listed in the frontpapers as part of the series.  My father (an english teacher) would see me pacing around and fidgeting for somethign to read and would hand me something off the shelf.   And eventually, when my peers sort of caught up to me, I'd read things they were reading or recommended to me.


I think there's value in both happening upon things to read and having things recommended, by both peers and adults.  There's a process contained within the discussion of "I liked this book and think you will too,"  "Why is that?"  "Well, because ...." that is valuable, in my opinion.


My kids have discovered books in all the same ways, including recommendations from me.    I went on to work in libraries and bookstores and I have a pretty wide knowledge of good kids books from the past ... 50+ years or so, and my kids have learned that when I say "Oh, you liked that one?   She's written a few more like it, do you want to read them?"  or "If you liked that one, this other one by a different author provides a neat perspective on the same events."


This might be looked down on as "strewing," by unschoolers, but the other thing I've done is simply build a pretty wide library of books to have available for my kids to pick up and read.   We have a huge Friends of the Library Booksale here, and I go and browse the kids section and pick up copies of things I suspect they'd like.   My father runs another, smaller, Friends of the Library sale in my old hometown, and every year he comes away with various books he spotted that he thought were interesting or somehow of value.  He tends to especially notice nonfiction stuff, and he has a real eye for spotting things that will appeal to my 12yo DS.   


At something like 10c per book for many of these, it has not been a large investment of money.    The kids have bookshelves in their rooms, and there's a kids shelf out in the main living area, and I just shelve them. If I haven't read them myself, I read them first and usually will say "That's a neat book about X, and I'm just going to shelve it here."    And a lot of the time, I'll find it on the bathroom floor a few months later, where my kid has pulled it and been reading it. Last week it was a book about the Roman legions, and then a book about historic fort building (more romans, really), and yesterday I found David Maccaulay's "Castle" had been pulled out.   The nonfiction tends to go in phases that are sort of braided with the fiction -- the Legions book came when  he just finished Rosemary Sutcliff''s "The Lantern Bearers," which he read as a sequel to her "Eagle of the Ninth," which he read because I recommended it to him as a favorite of mine.  


And in the child-led arena; he then recommended "Eagle of the Ninth" to his friends, and two of them borrowed it and read it too.  It tied in with the social studies unit they were doign at the time (public school 6th grade) and culminated in them telling one of the teachers about it, and then doing their building project around reconstructing a Roman border outpost as it might have been in the book.

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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#4 of 5 Old 06-07-2012, 10:37 AM
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I feel the NYC book review (it is a weekly paper for us so around) is a great jumping off place- little yet enough to spark an interest you may not think you have- while being around books is #1 to me, as others said, book stores, this time of year book fairs/sales but the weekly review (and special children's section) is also a great invite-IMO


For those I know and myself, interest is key yet a force (such as a class- be it college or an arts program) can also do it.


Both of my children also are given books as the main gift for EVERY occasion/holiday! That also means where ever there is a gift shop- we take home a book (usually based on the reason we were there)- national park visit, local museum, etc.

Picked out for them when they are small but as they age-ed they pick- we date our books and sometime write in them- they are a keepsake but the great jumping off place--last year when we were here you got this, what interests you this time?-kind of thing.

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#5 of 5 Old 06-07-2012, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

How have your kids discovered books?  I'm especially interested in child-led exploration, and casual influences from adults.  Or did they choose a particular class or curriculum for themselves?  What led them to do that?  How did you explore books on your own when you were growing up?


Not so casual, but my kids have discovered lots of books, series and authors because I've read aloud to them. I've done so at least into their teen years, so for a decade or so after they became independent readers. I don't read to them "in order to introduce them to literature." I read because it's a shared family pleasure, much like sitting down together to watch a movie. We decide what books to read by consensus. Sometimes one of them has heard of something, or found something at the library, or wants to continue with a series or a particular author. Sometimes one of them wants to re-read something from several years earlier that was especially enjoyed, for the pleasure of hearing it from an older, more insightful perspective, or of introducing a younger siblings to it. I refuse to read anything I don't think I'll find enjoyment in myself; they're free to read that on their own. So in a sense I exert a bit of quality control. But really, I'm just trying to be true to myself: in order for family readalouds to be a shared pleasure, I have to find pleasure. Anyway, about half the time I end up making a suggestion for the next book, and my kids are quite gracious and open-minded when I do so. I try to only suggest things I really think they'll warm up to, and they keep open minds so they almost always do warm up to them, even if they're not quite sure at the start. 


By age 10 or so, they have begun using Amazon, Library Thing and Goodreads and similar search & share services to discover books they might like. My eldest and youngest have been particularly keen on this approach. They maintain their own "Want to Read" lists based on reviews and recommendations and "people who liked this also liked..." lists on the internet. They browse in the local library. And they often get interested in something because a friend has recommended it. I don't know whether this is the norm or not, but my kids and their friends are often carrying books with them to read when they have waiting time (eg. while a sibling is doing soccer, or between violin lesson and group class) and they share a lot of recommendations between themselves.


When I was growing up I got my books from the library. We had a large public library two blocks from our house. But my kids have only a tiny school library that is miles from home. So we buy a lot of books. 



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