Getting Kids Excited About Reading

Some children are automatically interested in books, while others are more reluctant readers. What can you do to motivate a child who isn't very interested in reading? I talked to Bothell children's librarian Mie-Mie about a reading game she is playing with kids called Spoilers!

Destinee: Where did you get the idea for Spoilers! and how does it work?

Mie-Mie: It’s a program that was created by former Boulevard Park children’s librarian Kendra Wight (kwight@sno-isle.org). The gist of the program is that you challenge a child to outwit you (really 😊). The child selects a book that you both haven't read. You and the child check the number of pages and note the halfway point using a Spoilers! bookmark. The child reads the entire book. You read to the halfway point. The child prepares two endings to share with you: (1) the actual ending and (2) an alternate ending that they created. The child's goal is to trick you into picking their ending instead of the actual ending. If the child succeeds, the child wins! I have some small prizes the winners can choose from, but the real glory is that they've outwitted an adult.

D: So do you let the kids win?

M: I give it my all to choose the correct ending and not make it easy for them. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to bust out my winning dance moves. Would it surprise you to know my record is 0-5? These kids have the poise of Christiane Amanpour and the smarts of Judy Moody. Their art of persuasion? It's amazing!

D: What's the best thing about Spoilers!?

M: It's a personal, reader-to-reader program. Recently a 5th grader introduced me to a riveting teen novel, Wolf by Wolf, that came out a few years ago and I had to practically lock it away and sit on my hands so I didn't finish it! After our challenge, I still read the remainder of the book and then devoured the sequel and prequel in quick succession.

Wolf by Wolf

D: So how can people try out Spoilers! themselves? 

M: Right now I'm offering Spoilers! as a registered program at Bothell Library where people can make an appointment, but I'm also recruiting readers when I'm on the Info Desk, when I'm providing reader's advisory or during school visits. During the summer I'll have Spoilers "office hours" and readers can stop by and chat or set up a challenge.  I sit at a small table near the Info Desk and front entrance and let people know "the reader is in!" (much like Lucy from Peanuts with her "the doctor is in" sign).

D: Do you think it would work for parents and teachers to play Spoilers! with kids? 

M: Absolutely! 

Thanks to Mie-Mie and Kendra for sharing this creative way to spark children's interest in reading. For more ideas, check out The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller or other books about kids and reading

The Book Whisperer

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