Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing Column 32
This editorial article was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.
Why Kids Should Read Different Genres Of Books
The Children’s Book Review
The Benefits of Reading a Variety of Genres
Variety is the spice of life! We think this applies to reading a variety of genres, too! Oftentimes, children will return to familiar texts that they like and are comfortable with, such as a series. And while all reading is excellent and beneficial, there may come a time when you feel the need to encourage your child to pick up a different genre.
The more we expose our readers to various genres, the more comfortable and confident they will become. Reading different genres helps with overall comprehension. For example, if it is a fiction book, your brain will be focusing on characters, setting, plot, and theme. If it is a nonfiction book, your brain will be focused on helpful text features and learning real-life facts. If you are reading historical fiction, you know that the events are real, but the characters are not. When it comes to fantasy, your child will understand that there will be elements and events that cannot happen in real life.
Each genre has unique characteristics and exposing your reader to them will help them understand and enjoy any book they might choose. Along with boosting the critical skill of comprehension, different genres expose readers to different vocabulary, photographs, and illustrations, which will help them build a generous amount of background and context that they can apply to further reading. It’s fantastic to see readers making text-to-text connections and noticing the similarities among different books. No matter the genres, your reader can begin to analyze and apply higher-level thinking skills to see how similar the character, themes, and concepts might be.
How to Teach Kids to Enjoy Different Genres
Here are a few tips on how to encourage your kiddos to broaden their book choices.
Put Different Genres on Display
Simply putting books of different genres on display, where they are more noticeable, will make them more desirable. Put little stacks around the house, from the dining table to the foot of the bed and cozy couch nooks. Before you know it, kids will have picked them up and their interest is piqued.
Try Book “Blessings”
When I taught 4th and 5th grades, we liked to assign the students “Book Blessings.” This was just a different way to recommend a book but gave the book an even more special connotation. When encouraging readers to pick up different genres than they are used to, spend a few minutes over a meal or during some downtime to “bless” a book and try to make it as interesting and exciting as possible—like a movie trailer. When feasible, end it with a reason why you think they would love it. Often, this will be the book your kids choose to read next.
Read an Exciting Excerpt Aloud
Choose an exciting part of a book and read it aloud with passion, excitement, and lots of emotion. Add in a little drama about how shocked or surprised you are about how the events in the book are unfolding. I bet your reader won’t be able to wait to get that book started!
Lead by Example—Model for your Reader
I am guilty of the fact that I always gravitate towards reading realistic or historical fiction. Sometimes, I will push myself to explore a new genre. When I do, I like to talk to my kids about it. I make sure to explain what book I picked up and why. Then, I like to keep them posted on how I am enjoying the book and what I am noticing about the genre. This invites them to try different genres too, and they will begin to relate to what I’m saying. It usually leads to a fun discussion about different types of genres.
One sure way to get kiddos to pick up a different genre is to visit a new library or local bookstore. Simply seeing different books in a different environment can feel fresh and exciting and can inspire them to pick up a new kind of genre.
Thank you for reading the Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing column. Bookmark this Growing Readers Column link or subscribe to our e-newsletter so you do not miss out on the monthly reading tips. Why Is It Important to Read Books From Different Genres? was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.—follow her on Instagram: @wildflower_learning_denver.