Chapter 35: Target Your Child’s Interests

(Click for the Complete Online Parent Reading Guide)

Fight the “deadly dulls”!

No one wants to read something that’s boring – not even adults! For kids who are struggling to read, finding books that interest them is even more important. Interest leads to engagement, and engagement leads to mastery. In other words, kids who are interested in what they’re reading are eager to read and learn to read better.

Narrow it down

Having trouble thinking of books that might match your child’s interests? Read on! Below are some questions, grouped by interest. If you answer yes to most – or all – of the questions in one particular group, then you’ve found your child’s niche!

  • The sports fan – Does your child love to watch football with Dad on Saturday? Does she belong to a soccer team? Does she spend hours every weekend on her bike? Then books about sports and sports teams are a good topic to target. Some really good titles include “The Face-off Phony” by Gordon Korman, “Jackie and Me” by Dan Gutman, and “Bobby Baseball” by Robert Kimmel Smith.
  • The animal lover – Does your child like animals? Is her bed piled high with a teddy-bear menagerie? Does she keep turtles and birds and goldfish in her room and beg you for more pets? Then animals are her soft spot. Look for books that tell about the life cycles of animals, how to care for pets, or what it’s like to be a veterinarian. Good choices include “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White, “Stella Luna” by Janell Cannon, and “My Cat, Beany” by Jane Feder and Karen Gundersheimer.
  • The space cadet – When someone sets up a telescope in the park, is your daughter the first one to look through it and the last one waiting in line for a second look? Does she say she wants to be an astronaut some day? Does she love sci-fi movies like “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “Galaxy Quest”? Then follow that interest straight to the stars! Get her books about the planets and space. Find books about the heroes of space exploration, such as Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride. Good book choices include “Me and My Place in Space” by Joan Sweeny, “Aliens Love Underpants” by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort, and “Planets” by Elizabeth Carney.
  • The musician – Does your child belong to the school band? Does she drum along with the music videos on YouTube? Does she have a hundred songs on her iPod? Then look for books about music and musicians. These include “Story of the Orchestra” by Robert Levine, “Gus and Me” by Keith Richards, and “My First Guitar” by Ben Parker.
  • The explorer – Does your child love to go camping? Does she come home from the park with skinned knees and a big smile on her face? Is Dora the Explorer her favorite cartoon? Then you’ve got a little adventurer on your hands. Great books for explorers include “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen, “National Geographic Kids: Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas,” and “This is New York” by Miroslav Sasek.

Need more?

Want even more ideas to keep your child reading? Then explore high-quality kids’ book sellers such as Scholastic Books and Chinaberry. These companies screen books for quality and offer reading-level guidelines. There are also some really good book-review sites online that help kids find great books on their own. Check out Biblionasium and Kidsmomo. These sites let kids share recommendations and reviews of the books they love.


Scholastic Books, Parents: Raising Readers and Learners,

Chinaberry, (request a catalog at 1-888-481-6744)

Biblionasium: Where Kids Flex Their Reading Muscles,