Hook Books: How to Get a Child to Love Reading

by GfG on February 28, 2014 · 1 comment

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Reading is a pretty big deal in our family.  We all love to read… well… the youngest (he’s five) doesn’t yet, but we have high hopes.  You could say it’s genetic, but I think it’s more than that.

My mom read a lot.  She disappeared into books and so did I.

My first chapter book was Charlotte’s Web and I loved it.  I still have that copy and thoroughly enjoyed reading it aloud to HB.

I didn’t always read worthwhile books, but I loved reading.  I was a fiction gal all the way.  I devoured James Herriott’s books.  All the books in the Big Red series.  And tons more.

Sadly, I wasn’t introduced to the Narnia or Lord of the Ring series.  I think my mom was happy I was reading and didn’t really care what it was (a mistake, I would like to say).

Since becoming a mother and homeschooler, I have realized the importance of really great books as compared to “twaddle” (a la Charlotte Mason who is worth your time to check out if you’ve never studied her methods) or “fluff” books.

Don’t get me wrong, kids need early readers that help them master phonics and reading fluency, but after that…. living books all the way.  I’ll elaborate on that another day, but today I’d like to talk about living books that hook kids into loving the gift of reading.

I call them hook books.

where the red fern growsmy side of the mountain

Some children don’t love to read right away, especially if it’s a struggle to learn for whatever reason.  Some kids don’t love to read, period. I believe the key to getting kids to LOVE reading is presenting them with books worthy of their time and attention.

Books so well written that you feel as if you are there.  Books so well written that the characters are more than just funny people, they are ones you care deeply about.  Books so well written that the stand the test of time for their quality of language use.

I don’t mean books that are simply written to entertain the masses with goofy language and styles that are like fads.  No, I mean really great literature.

And sometimes we need to introduce the best of the best to hook a kid into reading.

mysterious benedict

Hook books are never forgotten.  They are cherished.

If your child doesn’t love reading or constantly checks the timer to see how much longer while they read their obligatory thirty minutes a day (and if you aren’t doing that…. ahem!), then I humbly suggest that you offer them hook books.

Here are some suggestions for hook books (in order from early elementary to junior high):

  • Little House on the Prairie
  • All of a Kind Family
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins
  • Stuart Little
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
  • The Yearling
  • Where the Red Fern Grows
  • My Side of the Mountain
  • Black Beauty
  • Heidi
  • Pollyanna
  • Little Britches
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • Treasures of the Snow
  • The House of Sixty Fathers
  • A Single Shard
  • Nory Ryan’s Song
  • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
  • The Door Within
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society
  • Johnny Tremain
  • Calico Bush
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • Little Women
  • Otto of the Silver Hand

And here are a few high school hook books:

  • The Hiding Place
  • The Hobbit
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • The Chosen
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Stepping Heavenward

If your child doesn’t like to read, I suggest you try a hook book.  And then another.  And then another.  And another.

Find one that ties into their interests or personality and insist they read it.  Read it with them, even.  As a read aloud or both of you have your own copy and read side by side.

If you want a couple of fantastic resources to point you towards hook books, check out Honey for a Child’s Heart (this one categorizes them by age group) and/or The Hand That Rocks the Cradle: 400 Classics for Children (categorized by author).  Another great resource is Sonlight curriculum’s read aloud book list and BiblioPlan (you can look by historical time period) or Tapestry of Grace.

I recently saw a blog post that listed many of the books on my list in Kindle versions for FREE!  Check it out here.

If you’d like a personal suggestion or two, leave your question in the comments.  Not only will I probably have a suggestion for you, but my readers will too!

What books hooked you and/or your kids?

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