Since nurturing a child’s interest in reading can be a daunting task in this era of ubiquitous screens, Pamela Paul and Maria Russo, editor and children’s books editor, respectively, of the New York Times Book Review, teamed up to help guide parents through the process. The coauthors of How to Raise a Reader (Workman, Sept.) will discuss their book during today’s eponymous panel moderated by Jane Pauley, TV journalist and host of CBS Sunday Morning.
The book grew out of a digital guide that Paul and Russo wrote for New York Times subscribers that resonated with readers, many of whom expressed interest in a print version. “The book was a natural extension of what feels like a mission to both of us,” Paul says, “turning young people on to books and literature, helping parents and others support that, and finding the best books for their children.” Russo adds that the project “was for both of us a great blend of the personal and the professional. We each have three children, and our kids are each very different kinds of readers. We had a lot to draw on. We got started, and the ideas really flowed.”
The book is organized into four sections corresponding to a child’s age and reading level, from baby to teenager. Included is advice on the best ways to make reading a family activity, how to engage a reluctant reader, why not to push Harry Potter too early, and building a library.
At the panel, the authors plan to share several key messages with their audience. “We’re in a time of incredible vitality and change in children’s books,” Russo notes. “There are so many new developments that parents should know about, such as the rise of excellent and truly literary graphic novels for kids.”
Paul hopes that the discussion reassures attendees that raising a reader is “easier and more fun than it sounds.” She adds, “It is most decidedly not work and is not difficult. A lot of it is about intention, and about paying attention. We’re showing how to instill a love of reading in the children in your life, in ways that will benefit not only them but you as well.”
Also a mother of three, Pauley learned that lesson from personal experience: “I just read a book with a three-year-old, who, a year ago, tore through pages, the year before tore off the pages,” she says. “But this time he lingered over each page and each picture on it. Suddenly our roles were reversed. I was anxious to turn the page, and he wanted to take his time. How to Raise a Reader opened my eyes to the myriad ways we read, and how our relationship with books changes over a lifetime. Above all, instilling a love of reading from an early age brings wonderful things to the world of both child and family. I am grateful to Pamela and Maria for opening a grandmother’s eyes.”
Today, 11–11:30 a.m. The “How to Raise a Reader” panel will take place on the Indie Publisher Stage.