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Raise an Eager Reader

Each summer about now--and without really meaning to--parents everywhere start turning books into vegetables. We transform something that is naturally quite good on its own into something that is "good for you." And while this distinction might seem meaningless to parents, it is critical for kids. We don't tell our children to go Facebook or watch television or eat dessert. And so our kids instinctively know that these things are treats. By telling them to "do their reading," then, we are making it a chore. "In the end, the good readers are the ones who absolutely love it," explains Susie Rolander, a reading specialist in the New York City school system and a mother of three. "Summer is a great time to let go of those pressures and really jump into the luscious, magical world of a great book." To turn your reluctant reader into one smitten by a good story, well, keep reading!

The ideal books are simply the ones your child will actually enjoy. To find them, focus on what she likes, not what you think she should read.

Action & Adventure Books

Animal Books

Scary and Silly Books

History Books

Fantasy Books

Sports Books

Can she read it?

Most children's books have a suggested age range on the cover, but this applies more to subject matter than to difficulty. One book for 8- to 12-year-olds can vary wildly in complexity and vocabulary from another. To sort out what's best for your independent reader, go to and check the measure of text difficulty. You input the title of a book your child reads easily, then the title you're looking at and compare the numbers. Keep in mind, too, that many precocious readers will be able to handle books for older kids, but consider the content: Is it too scary? Or is the romance or implied bad behavior not something you want your child exposed to at this stage?