James Patterson: There was an article in People magazine a few years back that said "James Patterson's son is a reluctant reader," and Jack brought it over to me and said, "Dad, hey, what's the deal?" Jack is very well-read. He didn't love reading the way I knew he would back when he was 8, 9 years old. My wife and I made a very concentrated effort to reverse that: we took him out and picked out books with him. And the third time around, he had drawn up his own list of what he wanted to read. We knew it was working. It's a step that every family has to consciously take.
ReadKiddoRead is a tool that makes it easy for parents to get their kids reading for fun. We've picked out the very best books that will work to keep kids engaged. But the first step as a parent is absolutely the most important. The first step is make a firm resolution: It's my job to get my kids reading.
JP: I want him to know the joys of getting lost in a great story, or debating the points in the latest New York Times op-ed with his friends. I want him to be smart and successful, just like any parent wants for their kid. Raising a reader means raising a model future citizen. We all want our children to be readers — the trick is, how do we coax them into it, how do we guide them into the habit?
JP: Some of the books that got him hooked: A Wrinkle in Time, Hugo Cabret, The Warriors, Percy Jackson, the Alex Rider series. He's older now and reading all over the map. He really liked Unbroken, the Laura Hillenbrand World War II book.
JP: I really liked those old Scrooge McDuck comics. And I regret getting into the game so late, but it really wasn't until college when I started really reading. So I'm a little backwards: I was reading absurdist playwrights for fun first, and it took years until I could appreciate Charlie Bucket or Maniac Magee.
JP: Spend time with your kids developing the habit. Go with them to the bookstore or library and pick out books that match their interests. One thing we did with Jack was say, OK, you don't have to mow the lawn if you read for 20 minutes. You've never seen a kid pick up a book so fast.
And try to be a little looser with what you might traditionally consider reading. They don't all have to sit down and immediately be engrossed in Silas Marner (yuck). Kids need to have the freedom to choose, and that could include comics, manga, books on facts/world records. Don't say no to something if it gets a kid excited about reading. The simple fact is, if kids don't like what they're reading, they won't read.
JP: Jack keeps me on my toes. He has good business acumen already. He says I need to be tweeting a lot more often. I should listen to him.
JP: Think about this: Each year, more and more bookstores are closing for good. School libraries are getting chopped. I'm arguing that our world will be much worse off if we don't do something to save our bookstores, libraries and the publishing industry as a whole.
How will we shape the future of reading in this country? I'm pulling together ideas from everyone. This fall we're going to make a concrete plan out of the best ones, actually put them into action. If you leave one great, actionable idea below, I promise to consider it.
The book I have out right now, Mistress, is getting some good reads. It's set in D.C. A reporter, Ben Casper, finds his dream girl dead of an apparent suicide. Ben's a different sort of character from my usual heroes — you'll see. And he gets in a little over his head. OK, way over his head.
My first adventure-comedy for middle graders is out now, called Treasure Hunters. The Kidd siblings have grown up traveling the world, scuba diving through the coolest, most mysterious shipwrecks of all time, but suddenly lose both their parents. I'm really excited about this new series and what I'm going to be able to do with these characters.
I also have the new Michael Bennett, Gone, coming in two weeks, and the newest Alex Cross, Cross My Heart, in November. Those should keep you busy.
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