4 Books That Made a Reader Out of My Son

4 books that made our son love reading fiction

Well, that is a slightly misleading title, I suppose. Allow me to tell you a little story:

Once upon a time, a new homeschooling mama found herself gobbling up Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophies. This mama loved to read so the idea of a curriculum based on literature sounded just heavenly, so she dove on in. She learned, unfortunately not quickly, two things. One: this mama doesn’t particularly like to read out loud. Two: classic literature bored both her and her children. The end…well, not exactly, keep reading…

Let me pause here and say this, I agree with most of what Charlotte Mason has to say about education. Her ideas of dictation, narration, memorization, and quality literature are spot-on. I just think they will look different in each family. And the idea of using living books (vs. textbooks) to learn is great…in theory. I’ll explain a little more below.

You see, I was torn by this idea of twaddle (a CM buzzword). I grew up on twaddle, I was one voracious reader of twaddle. For those of you not in the know, twaddle is the CM word for books that are trivial, silly, or meaningless. Series books are generally considered twaddle among CM followers. They equivalate twaddle to Twinkies. You know, instead of real food.

I will spare you the details of my wrestling with this and just tell you my conclusion:

Some people enjoy literature like Shakespeare and poetry, we don’t. The only living book we see that has supreme value for everyone is THE living book, the Bible. Someday my kids will probably be required to read some Shakespeare and poetry, but I don’t see the point in boring them with it now. All it did was make them dread school. Not exactly what I’m trying to accomplish here.

This is what made me finally give up this expectation:

I realized my son did not see value in fiction. He has no interest in reading about something that could have happened or quaint stories that told you about an animal without using to-the-point facts. It is either true or not. He LOVES non-fiction books, in fact, they are THE reason he actually wanted to learn to read well. And some of his favorite books were not “living books.”

My oldest daughter, she loves historical fiction. She loves stories and non-fiction books bore her for the most part. My point? God made your child unique, respect that and find what works for each child. I have three very different personalities and learning styles I’m working with right now. It is a challenge (oh is it!), but an individualized education is a big part of why we homeschool.

Back to my son. See, I wasn’t ready to give up on the whole “reading books for enjoyment” thing. I wanted him to like reading fiction. Hey, I’m not perfect either…

One day at the library, I found a book that finally sparked an interest in reading for him. This is it:

This book made a reader out of my son

1. Pirate Penguin and Ninja Chicken – Troublems with Frenemies by Ray Friesen :: So totally silly. Complete twaddle. And he LOVED it. He read it and reread it. He read most of it out loud to me as he went. He laughed out loud as he read (music to my ears!). He told his friends about it. In fact, he took it to church to read specific parts to a specific friend. He loved it so much that after he read it forty times from the library, my sister got it for him for Christmas and he read it again. The boy loves his Pirate Penguin and Ninja Chicken. And so does his mama.

To round our our list, here are some of the other books he really enjoyed or still enjoys.

2. Adventures in Odyssey’s Imagination Station – The Voyage with the Vikings :: We have only read the first book in this series because our library didn’t have more. I won books 5 and 6 from a blog around Christmas time, I need to order the rest so we can keep going. He actually brought this to me to read to him (it is an easy read, but he liked to listen to the story) each day and asked questions about some of the historical facts around it. This was before we found #1 and it was the first fiction book he engaged in.

3. Lego Ninjago books – He seriously loves Legos, especially the Ninjago series. There are quite a few of these available.

4. Bird and Squirrel on the Run by James Burks :: This was our most recent find. He is enjoying this, too. It is pretty funny.

So there you have it, four books that made a fiction reader out of my son. Only one of these is not a graphic novel type book, if you have a disinterested reader, you might try something new. You never know what will spark their interest.

What books does your boy like to read?

Speak Your Mind


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  1. My son tends to go for the non-fiction books too. I have been trying some smaller chapter books during our reading time to see if he would be interested in them. So far a couple series he enjoys are Freddie Fortnortner Fearless First Grader by Rand and Andrew Lost by Greenburg.
    Thanks for the additional titles. I’ll definitely be looking for those next time I’m at the library.

  2. I typically enjoy non-dry nonfiction and historical fiction. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is a biography, and although the majority of biographies are dry and boring, in Unbroken, you literally feel you are there. (I do not recommend it for anyone under 13. But a must-read for all teenage and adult Christians!)
    Not quite sure how old your son is, but a fiction historical I like is I Am David by Anne Holm. Appropriate for grades 4+. It is clean, Christian-theamed, and as excellent morals and values.

    • My son is almost 9. Unbroken looks like a fabulous read, I’ll be adding it to our read later list. I Am David looks like it will be good for next school year. Thanks!

  3. Radical Mommy says

    The Pirate and Ninja one *looks* like a fun book to read, and anything with a Pirate or a Ninja sends my son into fits of glee, so thanks for posting about it! 🙂

  4. Thanks for the recommendations. I have to say that I really want to read the pirate penguin book so I will be searching for it in our library.
    Have you seen the Dinosaur Cove by Rex Stone series, they are brilliant and you don’t need to read them in sequence. These are the books that make my son want to read. Also try the Ian Whybrow chapter books about Harry. He has got rid of the bucket of dinosaurs and now has a keyring with back up dinosaurs on it. They are very well written and lots of fun.

  5. I so appreciate this post. I actally do love reading aloud so that is where I read more of the CM books that hold our interest. I also get books on CD or MP3 for listening during quiet time. But my 10 year old son has No interst in reading these things. He is very fact based. Though I love good lit. and agree with most of CM, twaddle has made its way into my house and I have no shame….anymore. I did struggle for a long time with it. He IS reading and that is what counts. my oldest is a varacious reader but she prefers fantasy and for a long time I tried to steer her another direction but didnt work. She just finished writing a 77,000 word fantasy novel in 6 weeks. She is a great reader and writer but cant really stand Shakespeare. I have nothing worry about with my kids…..twaddle and all 🙂

    • Good for you! I think it is easy to forget that, no matter how great a philosophy (or book) is, not every aspect will apply to every child. Which kind of makes this parenting and homeschooling thing challenging until you figure out what works, lol. 🙂


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