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James's Top Ten: Surefire Ways to Get Your Kids Reading

James is on a mission to turn kids all across the nation into passionate, literate, and inspired readers. If you're looking for tips on how to excite your kids about books, start here, and check back for a new one each week.

  1. DON'T LEAVE THE BURDEN WITH SCHOOLS—IT'S YOUR JOB TO GET KIDS EXCITED ABOUT READING.
  2. READ MORE! Here's a simple but powerful truth that many parents and schools don't act on: The more kids read, the better readers they become.
  3. PICK OUT BOOKS THEY'LL LOVE. Kids say the number one reason they don't read more is because they can't find books they like. The best way to get kids reading is to give them books they'll gobble up.
  4. WHERE CAN I FIND GREAT BOOKS? AND FREE BOOKS? ReadKiddoRead.com, GuysRead.com, Oprah.com, YALSA and ALA's sites. Where to find free or low-cost books: ReadKiddoRead.com, FirstBook.org, ReadertoReader.org.
  5. DON'T DISCRIMINATE. Freedom of choice is key: Comics, re-reading a book, easy books and hard books are all fair game. Don't say no if the book is helping a kid get into the reading habit.
  6. DON'T FEAR CHANGE—We need to embrace new programs in our schools and communities. Good models: the Drop Everything and Read program; KIPP Schools' 'carry a book at all times' rule; Sun Prairie Schools' switch from texts to trade books.
  7. BOYS ARE SQUIRRELY. Boys' differences in tastes need to be encouraged, not reprimanded. Too often, boy-appealing books like Guinness World Records or books with explosions and robots are disproportionately overlooked on schools' recommended-reading lists.
  8. BE A READING ROLE MODEL. The best role models for reading are at home. Moms and Dads, it's important that your kids see you reading.
  9. THOSE IN POWER SHOULD HELP. The Obamas, ESPN, NBA, NFL, or Hollywood could help if they start pressing the issue. The UK's World Book Day is a great example of those in power getting kids reading.
  10. YOU CAN TAKE ACTION. Please "like" me on Facebook or send me a note. With enough people behind me, I want to write our legislators in Washington, D.C., and others in power, and get something done about this issue. But, even if you don't have a chance to do that, please go and pick out some great books for your kids. It's one of the most important, effective, and caring things you can do for a child.