Curl Up With a Good Book

Local authors share ways to get kids reading


Barry Wolverton, author of Neversink, Walden Pond Press •

Be catholic in your definition of reading. This comes from the perspective of a boy who had a hard time sitting down with a book. But as a youngster I was reading: comics, sports almanacs, the Guinness Books of World Records, Dungeons & Dragons manuals. These were not the most challenging things I could have been reading in my free time, but they did fire my imagination. And most importantly, I wasn’t forced to read only what adults told me to read. 

• Favorite childhood books: The Jungle Book and Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.


Amber McCree Turner, author of Sway, Disney*Hyperion •

Remember, just because a child can read on her own doesn’t mean she has to read alone. My 8-year-old daughter has been capable of independent reading for years, but we still enjoy curling up on the couch and reading a good book out loud to each other. It’s even better when we add a cup of hot chocolate into the mix. When your child associates the act of reading with that special combo of your undivided attention, a comfy spot, and something yummy, then it’s a treat she’ll likely want to relive.

We also enjoy acting out favorite book scenes. My daughter will color some backgrounds, gather props from around the house, and make herself a costume to reenact her favorite part for the rest of the family. This takes the story beyond the page and in turn, makes it more fun for her to dive into the next book.

• Favorite childhood books: Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And Shel Silverstein books, especially Where the Sidewalk Ends.


Stephanie Painter, author of The Secret of Riding Tandem •

Both of my kids were avid early readers. When Ella was a 6, she joined a book club. These emerging readers shared their takes on books and made crafts related to the stories. After three years, the girls are keen readers.

At the library, we join summer reading programs. Ella discovered the Warriors and Guardians of Ga’Hoole books, Percy Jackson & The Olympians, and continues to love fantasy series. My 13-year-old daughter Kara recently rediscovered books after a two-year fallow period. She picked back up with the Hunger Games series. Friends are her best source for finding great titles.

Try giving your child a book that has special meaning to you. When I turned 7, my mom gave me an art book filled with Picasso’s images of circus performers. As I looked at the subdued faces and colors in the artwork, I wondered why Mom hadn’t picked a Nancy Drew mystery. Later, I saw that she was giving me freedom to explore a world beyond the cul-de-sacs and banana-seat bicycles of my childhood. That’s really what books do.

• Favorite childhood books: Jules Vernes’ 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a gift from my grandfather who shared his love for adventure. And C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe




First Book-Mid South provides new books to children through eligible community organizations like preschools, day care, after-school, and tutoring/mentoring programs. • Learn more at

Books From Birth will send your child one free book in the mail each month from birth to age 5. • Learn more at

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