Thursday, May 22, 2008

Forest of Reading: How to Raise a Reader

Education Reportor Kris Rushowy interviews Silver Birch nominees for The Star. Click the title below for the full article.


Authors honoured at the 15th annual Forest of Reading Festival of Trees offer these tips for fostering a love of reading in your kids. Hint? Read, read, read!

Author: Charis Cotter

Book: Kids Who Rule: The Remarkable Lives of Five Child Rulers Gr.3-6 (Silver Birch, non-fiction nomination)

Inspiration: “I wanted to be a writer because I love the world of books and I want to live in that world. Writing puts me there. Kids Who Rule and my latest book, Wonder Kids: The Remarkable Lives of Nine Child Prodigies, are both part of a series I'm writing about the childhoods of famous people. The books illustrate how unusual children handle the extraordinary circumstances of their lives. "Kids Who Rule came directly from my own fascination with royalty. When I was a child I had many fantasies about being a king or a queen. I think a lot of kids do. There is something very seductive about the idea of that kind of power. Kids imagine that a king or queen can do whatever they want to—eat what they like, boss grownups around and live in a castle—just like in a fairy tale. Of course the reality is very different. The child rulers in my book had very difficult lives and they had to struggle to live up to what was expected of them. They had much less control of their lives than the average modern child. Yet each story in the book has some element of the danger and wonder of a fairytale: a girl sleeps beside a box with her father's heart in it, a boy lives in a Forbidden City where time stands still, a girl is chased by a king who wants to kidnap her and a king is found through a series of strange omens.” Advice for raising a reader: “My only advice to parents who want to raise kids that love reading is to read to your child as much as you can and read books you both enjoy. Some of my best childhood memories are of my dad lying beside me reading the Narnia books, one chapter a night. And some of my best times with my own daughter were settling down in her bed with a stack of picture books and reading half a dozen at a time. Reading together is warm and cuddly and fun.”

Author: K.V. Johansen

Book: Torrie and the Snake-Prince Gr.3-6 (Silver Birch nomination)

Inspiration: “I've always enjoyed telling stories. For me, most story ideas arise out of a character. The Torrie books simply began with Torrie, telling stories of adventures he had with young humans long before. Because he is a character who is outside of humanity, he is able to be a wry, wise, and sympathetic observer to what's going on as the young heroes undertake their various quests, and bring some humour from this outsider's perspective. He gives me a great deal of freedom in telling the stories, because of the oral quality he brings to the narrative. He is telling the story, and so he is able to pause and explain the unfamiliar to his audience, set things in context. And he isn't limited to a narrow place and time in his world; he is immortal and a traveller, so his tales span centuries of his world's history.” Advice for raising a reader: "Read to your child every night. Don't dumb things down for them. Remember that you can and should read books to a child that they aren't yet able to read for themselves; that's how their minds, their imaginations, their understanding of the world, and their grasp of language all grow.”

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