5 Tips for Parents of That Precocious Reader

  • by Jeanne Lamb

    Librarians are frequently asked to recommend titles for that precocious 9-year-old (or, ___ fill in the blank) who can read well above their grade level.

    First, congratulations on getting past the decoding stage. Now the fun begins. As with any skill, in order for proficiency to morph into expertise, one must spend lots of time just plain old reading. A nimble reader is one who can handle all the tools a storyteller has in their kit: multiple subplots; alternate realities; folklore mashups; unreliable narrators and many more. You do not have to start checking out books from the Adult collections, there are plenty of books to be found on the shelves in the Children's Room at your library. Here are a few tips for helping your reader along the way—no matter how eclectic their tastes:

    DO take into account the tender years of the reader.
    There will be plenty of time for cynicism, moral ambiguity, and existential angst later. A wonderful world of adventure, enough to satisfy even the most curious, can be found within the pages of classical and contemporary writings.

    DO consider nonfiction.
    Your average nonfiction tends to be more textually complex with rich vocabulary (think of all those dinosaur names). That old adage—truth is always stranger than fiction—is proved over and over on the nonfiction shelves at the library. There is plenty for you to find on those shelves too!

    DO expose your reader to a wide variety of materials in alternate formats—newspapers; comics; gaming magazines; whodunits; biographies—so your reader can find out more about their likes and dislikes. After all, even some of those overhead ads on the subways can be amusing and clever. Beware—they may not like what you like!

    DO let that precocious reader share their skills with younger readers.
    The pleasure they will bestow on an adoring 5 or 6 year old, will be nothing in comparison to the pleasure they receive as they revisit old favorites and have a chance to experience those favorites with fresh eyes and a deeper appreciation for the nuances they may have missed the first time around.

    DON’T worry. Your child will be just fine as long as you keep their world well stocked with things to read in every format possible, and, they get to see you spending plenty of quality time reading as well. They are watching to see what you value in your own life.