I found a lovely post on Amazon by Jeff Gunhus, and just had to share! Jeff details how he started his Jack Templar book series as a way to get his two young boys to read. This is what he has to say:
“My son Jack was smart and outgoing. He got great grades. But he liked reading books about as much as he liked walking behind our two yellow labs on clean-up duty. He was way more interested in movies, TV, video games. At first, I wasn’t too worried. But his vocabulary and writing skills began to slip. I decided to do something.
I created the Early Morning Book Club. That was my name anyway. To Jack, I’m sure it was the Early Morning Torture Club. The plan was that we’d get up early and Jack would read out loud to me for an hour. Luckily for him, his younger brother wanted in on the action, so Jack and Will read on alternating days. I taught the boys a lesson my fourth-grade teacher (the very British Mrs. Harvey) instilled in me: read with a pencil. Jack and Will underlined the heck out of words they didn’t know and created a running vocabulary list.
On Sunday night of the first week, I heard the boys fighting about whose turn it would be to read on Monday morning. It sounded just like their arguments about whose turn it was to take out the trash. My little experiment was failing. I sucked it up and prepared to change course. But before I turned the corner from my eavesdropping hideout, I realized an amazing thing. Jack wanted it to be his turn. So did Will.
Ah, the sweet smell of temporary success.
I say “temporary” because I only had a good three weeks of this honeymoon. The newness wore off. I wondered if I was just making reading a chore. I needed to do something to make it more exciting.
I decided I’d write something that Jack and Will couldn’t help but get sucked into: a story about two boys, Jack and his best friend Will (see how that works?), who become monster hunters. I wrote up the first chapter, introduced the main characters, and ended with a fight scene and a whopper of a cliffhanger. It was Jack’s turn to read when my story made its debut. He was hooked. The buzz was back in the Early Morning Book Club. I had a lot of writing to do.
In time, Jack Templar Monster Hunter was born. My wife, Nicole, ever-supportive throughout this entire journey, encouraged me to publish it. So did friends and family. I decided to use Kindle Direct Publishing to put the book into the world.
The reception was more than we could have ever hoped for. Our family has read all 152 of the reviews from Amazon customers. We high-fived when the book became a Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalist. We took a screenshot of Jack Templar on an Amazon category bestseller list right next to Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.
I’ve gone on to write more Jack Templar books as well as two novels for adults. Our experience with the Early Morning Book Club inspired me to write Reaching Your Reluctant Reader, a short book with all proceeds benefiting the Toys For Tots Literacy Program.
I’m grateful for Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace, and Jack Templar. Especially Jack Templar. He made my Jack want to read books. And I can’t think of any better gift than that.”
JEFF’S 10 TIPS FOR REACHING YOUR RELUCTANT READER
- Set up time to read with them. There’s always time. Sometimes you just have to carve it out of something else.
- Have them read out loud. You’ll know better where they are getting hung up. Kids often avoiding reading because they think they’re not good at it. Find out.
- Read with a pencil. Underline words your reader has a tough time pronouncing or can’t define. Transfer to a separate page later.
- Make them feel safe. Set the ground rules. Let them know that you didn’t know a lot of words when you were young. Confide that there are still words that you don’t know. There’s no judgment in the reading club.
- Use books that are fun, easy reads at first. An author who ends each chapter with a white-knuckled cliffhanger helps.
- Only let them read that book in your sessions. Make it special and use the cliffhanger to get them excited for the next session. Encourage a separate book to read outside the reading sessions if they are getting the bug.
- Relate to the book. Figure out how your reader’s life relates to the characters. This helps critical thinking and makes it fun.
- Write your own stories. They don’t have to be novels. But put your reader into the story, even if it’s just their name. Have fun with it.
- Be consistent. Once you set this appointment, nothing can touch it. Nothing.
- Have fun! This isn’t school, it’s supposed to be fun. You might be surprised. I didn’t expect to like the Harry Potter books but I loved them. Outside of writing Jack Templar, I had my own burst of reading. It was great fun and the more the boys saw me with a book in my hand, the more likely they were to do the same. The quiet mornings with my boys became some of my favorite times with them. I hope you can experience the same.
I have a 3 year old that I read to. I’m going to start writing stories for him right now! Great article. Thank you so much for blogging this! Keep up the good work.
Aw, that’s so sweet! 🙂
What a wonderful way to teach your children that reading is fun. On my blog I end with my mantra – ‘Reading Gives You Wings to Fly.’ I feel like it does for me. I love reading right next to writing. I, too, wrote a story, a fairy tale for my two children when they were young. I still haven’t published it but will one day. I have published five other stories though. I connected to your blog through Bette Stevens, a lovely lady and friend.
It is so important for children and adults to read and broaden their horizons with all kinds of books. You inspire me to write more and for YA and maybe middle school age too. Thank you sharing your thoughts. It is a sincere pleasure to meet you.
If you are interested I support other indie authors on my blog by doing an interview and also book reviews. Please contact if you would like to be on my blog. firstname.lastname@example.org
I couldn’t agree more. It all starts with reading.
Thank you so much for the kind comment, and for the interview offer. I just sent you an email. 🙂
Very good post; thanks for sharing this.
Thank you and welcome! 🙂
Reblogged this on Gifts To Go and commented:
Yes, yes, yes to anything that imparts the gift of reading. And let nothing else get in the way. Thanks for writing and sharing.
Thank you for the reblog, it’s much appreciated! 🙂
Loved this post. How fortunate for the author to get his kids to read and get a publishing success out of it too! I do think though that kids are bound to start reading sooner or later if their parents read, especially once they hit adolescence because there is always a lot of hype about this and that and kids like to share and belong. I see this with my nieces. As children they never used to read which is no surprise as neither of their parents do but now they are turning 14 and 12 and they are starting to buy books and delve into them without being prompted. The 14 year old just bought ‘Twilight’ and the younger one likes a well-known series of a nerdy girl’s diary, the name of which I don’t recall but you get the idea. The other kids read them and so they do too….
A sound and sensible approach. You are to be commended for being a good parent first and a good author second!
Welcome, and thank you – that’s such a sweet thing to say! 🙂
I can’t take credit for being a good parent, though – that goes to Jeff Gunhus, the original author of the post. My own children have four feet, are furry and sadly show remarkably little interest in reading, preferring instead to chase their tails… 🙂
Great post. I agree with your choice for sharing!
Hi Norah, welcome and thanks for the comment! 🙂
You’re welcome. 🙂
Thanks for sharing the inspiring story. I had the opposite problem with my son. He desperately wanted to read but we discovered he was dyslexic. I too wrote a book featuring my son. I wrote a chapter and read it to him each night. Although at the time he could not read the words, he became an excellent editor. My son is now an avid reader and he is my go to person for editing. Our sharing time gifted me a love of writing I didn’t know I had. 😀
Hi Colleen, welcome and thanks for the wonderful comment! Your story is amazing – and inspiring. Kudos to you both for turning a challenge into an opportunity!
Colleen. I continually learn new things about you. How wonderful. Did you publish the book you wrote?
No. I ended up writing two books for my son at the time. I have considered publishing them but they need some editing first. 😀 It was on my list of things to do when I retired but as you know the disability came first.
Reblogged this on BOOK CHAT and commented:
What a fantastic idea for encouraging your children to become readers!
Reblogged this on Be My Guest and commented:
What an amazing way for this man to get his children to read.
This is great! My daughters loved to read from the beginning and we couldn’t get enough books from the book store or the library. On a car trip across country we were always stopping at Walmart so they could buy yet more books. They read each others books and then wanted more. My granddaughter is becoming more excited about reading.
I am re-blogging this as well.
You must have done something very right, to have such a lovely, bookwormy family! 🙂 Any time you want to share your secret, I’d be grateful for a guest post!
Reblogged this on Bette A. Stevens, Maine Author and commented:
Reading with kids ~ It’s FUN-damental! Bette A. Stevens
Great tips. I had a problem, reluctant reader who was very smart. Luckily for me he loved nature and animals, so we jump started all of the early reader books and went straight to the wildlife section. He was reading by himself in no time.
What a great idea, thanks for sharing! 🙂
Interesting article. I never hit this problem with children not wanting to read, but you dealt with it well. I am afraid I dealt with it differently and perhaps earlier. One of my twins would sleep 4 hours at most and disturbed her sister, brother and me. I taught her to read at three and left her with a pile of books, a light on and instructions to be quiet and let me sleep. From when the oldest was about four my reading sessions were not sporadic but about an hour and a half every night in my bed while we moved from children’s books to David Edding. Their teachers did not much like the fact that all five of my children turned up at school reading and writing but comics were only bought if they could read them themselves. That concentrated their reading skills considerably. As books were everywhere I just let them read, only commenting if it was really unsuitable.
That’s brilliant! My mom did that with me, too. The novelty of reading me stories to sleep quickly wore off, and I learnt to fend for myself – erm, I mean to read, between two and three. I haven’t stopped since… 😀
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Oh – and a clarification, the article was not by me, as you can see at the beginning. I wish I were that smart! 🙂
Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog….. An Author Promotions Enterprise!.