Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Reaching Readers: What Do The Kids Say?

For this post on “Reaching Readers,” I thought I’d go directly to the source - the readers. I asked seven kids (ages 9 - 13) to give their honest answers about why they read the books they read... and why they don't.

Thanks to our young readers for sharing their thoughts!

What do you look for in a book?

Ethan:  I look for plot twists, deep characters, intense excitement when something exciting happens, and laughter when something is funny.

Hallie:  I usually look for good writing, a good plot, and likable characters. I enjoy reading many styles of writing, as long as the writers are talented and the book isn't too confusing. I like books with lots of action, but if they are written well and don't have action I will read them anyway (like WONDER).

Julianna:   I look for mystery, but I also like history. The main thing is detailed writing. I like to picture what I'm reading about, as if I were the character.

Cole:  A good plot.

Sierra:  I look for something that is fast moving and a topic that interests me.

Morgan:  Action, so that you are holding your breath for every page turn. Suspense.

Shay:  I look for good sensory details and a good beginning to hook me.

What is your favorite book and why?

Ethan:  My favorite book(s) are The HARRY POTTER series. Rowling gives just enough information that you know what is going on but the mystery remains. She has the right amount of humor and seriousness. You know the characters so well by the end of the books.

Hallie:  I think my favorite book is either UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld or INKHEART by Cornelia Funke. They are great authors, an exciting story, and relatable and likable characters.

Julianna:  My favorite book would be THE BOOK THIEF. I feel this because every page you turn something is happening. Also because there is so much emotion in the book you feel like you’re watching a movie and everything is right there in front of you.

Cole:  HARRY POTTER because it has a whole new world that seems like it could be real.

Sierra:  THE HUNGER GAMES is my favorite book because it has a lot of action and is a fast moving book.

Morgan:  THE HUNGER GAMES. Because there are twists and turns on every page.

Shay:  I don't necessarily have a favorite book but my favorite series is definitely HARRY POTTER!

What might stop you from reading a certain book?

Ethan:  When the book starts to drag on and you feel it's going nowhere fast. Also if you think you understand the character and like them, but then the author suddenly makes them do something you know they wouldn't have done!

Hallie:  I usually put down a book if it moves really slowly, if it's confusing, or if the writing is bad.

Julianna:  Things that could possibly stop me from reading a book is if the author is switching from one character's point of view to another. I also don’t like if they are not going in time order.

Cole:  If it is too hard to follow, if it is very slow, or if it is too boring.

Sierra:  If the book is boring or does not seem interesting, I may not continue to read it.

Morgan:  If it’s boring or slow. I like things to jump right in. I might stop reading if during the first half of the book I’m waiting for something to happen and it never does.

Shay:  Sometimes I read a book where the beginning is all about description and I don't realize that it could become a really good book by the end. But sometimes if a book starts slow it just really wouldn't be for me.

Do your friends influence what you read?

Ethan:  If a friend tells me a book is good I'll give it a try but if it isn't good, I won't read it.

Hallie:  I usually take suggestions from my friends, because we read the same types of books. We also talk about books we read a lot, and suggest new books.

Julianna:  Not really, I like mystery and history, and most of my friends are more drawn to fantasy. I am much more independent in what I read.

Cole:  Sometimes, but I mostly just pick books I think are good.

Sierra:  Yes, very much. They tell me if a book is good or not and if they say I would like it, I may read it.

Morgan:  Sorta, if we like the same books. Some of what my friends read does not interest me. But some of my friends have the same tastes as me. It really depends on the friend.

Shay:   I don't have a specific example of a time when that happened but if someone came up to me and said "Shay, you would love this book I just read!" then yeah, I would try it!

What bothers you about a story? Or what do you not like reading about?

Hallie:   I do not like reading books where the plot is based on the protagonist lying. It frustrates me. (Bloggers note: This child is mine. And my book may or may not be based on the protagonist lying. Oops.)

Julianna:  I do not like to read fantasy because I feel that they are taking history and mixing up all the theories.

Cole:  If it is too hard to follow, if it jumps around or if it switches characters.

Sierra:  It bothers me if in a story they have a bad plot or one that doesn't make sense. I dont like reading if it takes a while to get into a book or if it is confusing.

Morgan:  If everyone is happy and lalala, then it is just boring. Also if the antagonist is always happy, I may stop reading it.

Shay:  In books like HARRY POTTER, the first 300 pages are spent on description and that's okay, but I also really like books that have action all the time.

Do you only read certain genres? If so, what are they?

Ethan:  I enjoy the fiction genres (sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, etc.), but i do try reading other genres.

Hallie:   I usually read fantasy and science fiction, but I do enjoy some contemporary.

Julianna:  I personally read things like THE HUNGER GAMES and THE BOOK THIEF, not only because there is much action but because there is so much detail, that it feels as if you are being dragged along in the book and being toured by everything the author is saying.

Cole:  Fantasy, mystery, or anything unusual.

Sierra:  I like to read contemporary and sometimes fantasy.

Morgan: Any genre, as long as it has action and suspense.

Shay:  There are certain genres (fantasy, adventures, etc.) that I like to read but I'm always up to trying a new one!

It seems there are just as many opinions are there are books! Of course, there are books that have universal appeal because the writing is wonderful or the story line is compelling, and it’s great to know that young readers are willing to cross their preferred genres to try something new once in a while.

We’d love to hear your answers to our questions. Feel free to share below!

-- Ronni


  1. Ronni, I just about died laughing at your comment about your daughter's opinion on a lying protagonist!

  2. LOL, Gail! She still hasn't read my MS!!!! Luckily (or not!) my other daughter has no problem with lying... ;)

  3. Ga! That comment from your daughter about lying was epic! But this post was great! So interesting to hear what actual readers had to say. Interestingly enough, the favorite books mentioned by the young readers were also my favorites as an adult!

  4. This is s a fantastic post, Ronni. I love hearing what the kids have to say about their favorite books.

    1. Me too, Jean. It was such a fun post to research and write!

  5. Oh my gosh, thanks for sharing this! Great. Post.

  6. Thanks, Deb! It amazes me what sophisticated readers these kids are.


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