It’s common for kids to hold dearly to a specific topic: bugs, trains, princesses, horses, dinosaurs… and that’s totally okay! A little childhood obsession never hurt anyone, and can in fact spark a future career or expertise in their adult life.
As book-loving parents, we just want them to be happily (and quietly!) reading anything, even if that means going back to their same favorite truck story a few times a week. But ideally, instead of being obsessed with only truck books, they’re obsessed with all books! The more different types of books or genres they’re reading, the more it expands their overall knowledge and imagination.
We know that getting little ones to branch out can be tough. As always, Literati is here to help. Here are a few ways to help your child fall in love with new types of books.
Introduce your own favorites.
As we raise our children and recognize all their unique traits and quirky ways, it often reminds us of our own off-beat tastes or long-lost obsessions. Look for book topics that catch your eye. When you express your own passions while reading about Native American history or different species of wildflowers, your child is likely to be just as intrigued.
Keep it positive.
Try not to diminish their interests in order to get them to pick up other books. It’s better to naturally inspire a curiosity about other things, while reassuring them that trains are still the hands-down coolest thing in the world. Just help them to understand that it’s a big world—which means lots of other cool things to discover.
Get outside the box.
When we consider a book about, say, a geologist that hunts for fossils, we might think “Wait, my 3-year-old has no idea what a geologist is. Or fossils. He won’t get it.” Scratch that! Don’t be afraid to expose toddlers to subjects that are way outside of their current understanding. In fact, the “newness” might even help to pique their interest more.
Try different kinds of characters.
Read books with various protagonists of different ethnicities, genders, professions, and personalities. People that look like your child might help them identify and engage with that character’s interest. People that don’t look like them might stand out, which can make characters just as compelling. Plus, books with diversity will prepare them for a diverse world at any age.
Comic books are cool!
This can be especially effective with older kids or reluctant readers. Sometimes kids need a more visual experience to draw them in. Try introducing comics or graphic novels with subjects outside their usual go-tos. It’s tough for a kid to say no to a comic book. Plus, you’ll be the cool parent.
This is rare advice coming from Literati, we know. But kids might be more likely to watch a movie or TV show about a different topic before reading a book about it. So if your child is especially stuck on something, try movies first. The big screen might help expand their horizons. If they show interest in a few movies around new topics, introduce new books around those same subjects.
Make it a game.
Because, obviously! Choose a bunch of topics and challenge your child to read one book about each. You can actually download a “genre graph” from this website or make a bingo board. Can they read a book about nature? Dragons? Space? Get to reading to advance in the games!
We hope these fun tactics help you and your child branch out to new books and beyond!