The Adventure Reading Challenge
Adventure Reading part one
The First Book you Touch Adventure
Close you eyes. Walk or reach carefully till your fingers find a book. (Do not begin this near the cliff face, nor when more than 100 km from a bookshelf unless adequately hydrated.)
Pull out the first book you touch. Open you eyes. Read it.
I just tried this. I got Bushland Stories by Amy Eleanor Mack, printed 1921. I've never read it. I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT WAS IN MY BOOKSHELF! Actually, the stories are dire. Hilariously bad. Cute, moralistic, sweet. So bad that they really are worth reading, just to see how the way we write and talk to kids has changed. That is, adults now accept kids are the same species, and even have about 80% of the books, movies, tv shows they love in common.
You don't have to keep reading the first book you touch. Just give it a go. Even if it's the telephone book or the instruction manual for your mobile phone. Maybe ESPECIALLY if it is the instruction manual. I have yet to read any instruction manual. That may become Adventure 36.
Adventure Reading Part 2
Realising that most books are boring
Most books are boring. (Do not hiss). I have a ‘three book a day’ habit, but the last time I went to a book shop I only bought three books. Okay, I did own some of the others, but there were 3,000 I didn’t want to read.
I don’t like books about cricket. Or zombies. Or fantasy except by my six favourite authors who happen to write fantasy.
I don’t want to read about politicians unless they have been dead for 20 years. Or the sex life of football players. Or about rockstars. Or diet books. Beauty tips. Any books where the hero saves the world/galaxy/universe while exploding 1,00 innocent bystanders. How the heroine triumphed over adversity to become…Did I mention cricket?
In any 3,000 books there are very few I actually want to read- and even then will possibly only read two thirds of it then turn to the last page to see what happens in the end , a bit like eating the most delicious pizza in the world and after six slices thinking ‘Yum. But I have had enough.’
We need to give kids permission to find most books boring too- and to stop reading when they’ve had enough.
We also need to teach them how to find books that are so fascinating they can't bear to stop reading.
In the last three years I have asked about 120,00 kids in several countries and every state in Australia if they think books are boring. (I ask the adults in the audience to shut their eyes.)
In all but six places more than 80% of kids put up their hands. They included kids who’d just heard Andy Griffiths speak; kids at literary festivals on a Saturday as well as when they had been bussed from school; kids who had all cheered when the principal introduced me and chorused ‘Us!’ when I asked them, 'Who likes books?'
Except- mostly- they don’t.
So in the last three years I have challenged 120,000 kids that if their librarian, teacher or, as a very last resort, me, can't find them a book they adore, I’ll send them $5 or a packet of very good chocolate frogs. So far - after countless emails - we are still looking for books for one young man.
Every other one has found their ‘magic book’
The magic book is the one that turns a kid into a reader. It’s probably not a skinny, funny book. Think back to the book that changed your life. I bet it was a fat one, that challenged you and spoke to you.
So try it. Ask a kid to tell you what things they love and help them find their magic book. Bribe the to start reading. If they’re not skilled readers, you may need to read it to them.
And I bet you $5 or a packet of very good chocolate frogs that you will be creating a reader.