From my own classroom experience, I know that if children are allowed to choose their own books or are offered books that appeal to them, then they'll read more. If they read more, then they’ll be better students. Period.
The impact of reading is huge—it’s the foundation of all other subjects. History, science, coding. Students who read 20 minutes a day during their school careers score in the 90th percentile on standardized tests.
At school, however, it seems that we focus too much on reading "great" books or choosing from a list that purportedly gets students into college. In doing so, we’re turning some kids off to reading altogether. It’s become a job for them, a chore—something they have to do.
Reading is supposed to be a pleasure. To keep kids engaged during this critical time, we need to light up their imaginations and send them on virtual adventures. As soon as children open page one, the right book should be taking them on vacation.
Kids will never read Shakespeare or be drawn to nonfiction books later in life unless they learn to love reading first. Children (like all of us) are wired for story. This holiday season, plug your kids into a book they'll love.
Paul Aertker is the author of Crime Travelers, a middle school series that reads “like the Bourne Identity, but for kids.” Available at Amazon and independent bookstores worldwide.