In my work with parents and teachers, I am often the question, “How do you get kids to read?” I provide this answer: ARC. The ARC acronym stands for Access (to high quality texts), Relevance, and Choice. In other words, kids are likely to read when they are immersed in texts that are engaging, personally relevant, and serve an authentic purpose in their lives. If you’re interested in more research around reading motivation, I’m obsessed with the book No More Reading for Junk.
I often advise parents and teachers that it’s okay if their children are reading books that we don’t necessarily view as ‘high quality’. As long as they are engaged, allow kids to read Captain Underpants, comic books, and the Guinness Book of World Records. In other words, reading is reading. It does not matter the quality of the text, provided that they are actually reading.
Lately, I’ve discovered that this advice of “Let them read texts of their choice without your judgment” is easier said than done. I’m in the midst of a clash of my personal and professional worlds. My eight-year old is currently plowing through all of the Minecraft books, and I confess, I find them….well….not so high-quality. I know, I know. It’s time for me to shut up, practice what I preach, and simply allow her to read the text of her choice. After all, she’s meeting the ARC acronym of what motivates children to read – she is fortunate to have constant access to books, and at this particular moment in her life, these Minecraft books are relevant to her and they are her first choice of text. These books offer the content that she wants. She consults them as she collaborates with classmates in her afterschool Lego-Minecraft club. And most importantly, they are the text of her choice. She literally races to the children’s librarian on our weekly library trips to see if she can request the next Minecraft book in the series. When we eat at a restaurant, she requests the Minecraft books – not an IPad – to pass the time.