How to help your children learn to love reading books – Orange County Register

Before moving across the country and becoming the children’s book editor of the New York Times Book Review, Maria Russo spent 10 years in Southern California. As a former Los Angeles Times staffer and editor of Pasadena Magazine, Russo remains a fan of the area and one of its oldest landmarks for books.

“I love Pasadena,” Russo said in a recent phone interview. “My kids just grew up at Vroman (bookstore), basically. We were just there the whole time. And one of my proudest days as a parent was when my 11-year-old son said, ‘Think you think they would hire me at Vroman?”

Russo will return to the area with Pamela Paul, editor of the New York Times Book Review and co-author of “How to Raise a Reader,” for an event at the Tustin Library on January 11 (and Paul will appear solo at the Central Library of Pasadena with, yes, Vroman’s on January 27) to discuss the book and its goal of helping children develop a love of reading.

So spending time at a bookstore isn’t just a mark for Russo, she sees it as a valuable resource for parents.

  • “How to Raise a Reader” by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo. (Courtesy of Workman)

  • “How to Raise a Reader” co-author Pamela Paul. (Photo by Tony Cenicola courtesy of Workman)

  • “How to Raise a Reader” co-author Maria Russo. (Photo by Earl Wilson/New York Times courtesy of Workman)

  • “How to Raise a Reader” by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo offers help for parents looking to encourage a love of books in their children. (Stock)

  • “How to Raise a Reader” by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo offers help for parents looking to encourage a love of books in their children. (Stock)

  • “How to Raise a Reader” by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo offers help for parents looking to encourage a love of books in their children. (Stock)

“When you just have a lot of kids of different ages, a bookstore is a great place to go for about an hour when you’re shopping or after school,” said Russo, who adds that buying books as birthday gifts offers another advantage. “Let’s not forget: if you go to these independent bookstores, they are excellent for packaging.”

Filled with thoughtful strategies, well-organized book lists, and engaging illustrations, “How to Raise a Reader” offers calm advice on how to overcome common obstacles. The book focuses on the pleasure of reading and seeks to appease parents who panic at the idea that their child keeps rereading the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series.

“It’s about creating an attitude towards reading and bringing reading into your child’s life in a positive and joyful way and which in itself is a form of entertainment – not just that you’re trying to get them to succeed, excel and climb the ladder of achievement in school,” said Russo, who, like his co-author, has 3 children.

“So for you, it must be: We read this book because you like it. Read this book because it’s fun. Read this book because this topic interests you. Read this book because you love art. …You want to make sure that reading in your home isn’t just another chore adults impose on them and then judge them. It’s entertainment, and it’s a way to satisfy your curiosity, and it’s a way to see beautiful art.

Russo knows the value of this approach; not only does she have a doctorate in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, but she was raised with a love of reading.

“I was blessed to grow up in a house full of books with parents who are very serious and committed readers,” Russo said. “We weren’t particularly wealthy or connected. My parents – my dad was an English teacher and my mom was a nurse – but they had a whole wall of books in our apartment and that was the first thing people saw when they walked in and everyone was commenting on it. I just felt a lot of pride. I think a lot of that was just because books were always associated for me at home and something I felt proud of in my family.

“My self-identity has always been that reading is a big part of me. The books I love are my friends.

As a child, Russo quickly learned where to go to make new friends. “It was in the 70s when I was growing up, so I was allowed to walk to the public library,” she said. “That’s where I really became a serious reader. This is where I got lost for hours at a time. I was able to track down the authors I loved and made so many amazing discoveries wandering the library shelves.

Things have changed since then, especially with regard to screens. Today’s parents grew up with a TV and maybe a computer at home, but today’s kids have a number of devices with addictive graphics and endless wormholes of content. searchable in which to disappear. What should a parent do?

Take a deep breath to begin with. Russo and Paul tackle screens and screen time, but only after covering the basics first. (It’s on page 72 if you’re in a hurry.)

“The bottom line is, yeah, it’s obviously a good idea to limit screens,” Russo said, pointing out that parents can develop a love of reading even before their kids are on screens. “It’s really important to wait to talk about the challenges of screens on children’s reading after we’ve covered all these other topics that are really much more basic. Preschoolers and early elementary school kids love books. Especially if you’ve limited screens in their lives, which most parents do and are very strongly advised to do by the American Academy of Pediatrics. You see a bunch toddlers in a room full of books and they are delighted.

The authors are also clear about how they feel about the appeal of comics and graphic novels. “Look at the bestseller list, look at what the kids want. They put these books out, but a lot of parents still feel like it’s cheating or it doesn’t matter if it’s a graphic novel and so we’re really encouraging people to embrace all of the great literary value and staying power of graphic novels, and they inspire kids to read who might otherwise go to screens.

Do you know what can happen to a child who reads comic books? The authors of “How to Raise a Reader” do.

“Pamela and I just laugh about it. We were both really into Archie Comics, Richie Rich, Peanuts and all that stuff,” Russo said. “So why would we deny our kids their version of this?”

How to raise a reader

January 11: 2 p.m. at the Tustin Library, 345 E Main St., Tustin

January 27: 7 p.m. at Pasadena Central Library with Vroman Bookstore, 285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

About Marcia G. Hussain

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