Sigmund Brouwer makes sure to address the children present at the Oct. 11 presentation by getting down to their level to speak. He made sure to engage all ages who came out to the presentation. There were six or seven children present for the author talk, most of which were at the school presentations earlier in the day. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Stories are the best way to get children to read

Author Sigmund Brouwer spoke at the library about children’s literacy, Oct. 11

Books are boring, according to Red Deer author Sigmund Brouwer.

While speaking about children’s literacy at the Sylvan Lake Municipal Library Wednesday night, Brouwer told parents, and the few children present, that books are boring. And boring things are not going to be appealing to children.

Instead he suggested the term story, rather than book.

“Books are just paper and ink, they are boring. But a story is exciting and captivating,” he said.

Brouwer is the author of about 30 books spanning a large age range from juveniles, to young adults and adults. He says he is telling a story, not writing a book.

A story is something a person can connect with, which Brouwer says is important for not only children but any age group.

Without a connection, most people would not be interested in what is being said, or written.

“You need to appeal to the person’s heart, not their brain. By connecting on an emotional level you are more likely to hook your reader, young or old,” explained Sigmund.

When encouraging children to read, Sigmund said a great place to start is with an emotional connection.

This can be done through something the child loves, like hockey for instance. Hockey is a massively popular sport in Canada, and young boys in particular feel a connection with the sport. By reading hockey based stories together it can encourage the child to read more.

Because the story written in the book connects with the heart, it will captivate the reader to find out what happens next.

“It’s the wonder of what happens next that will keep a reader reading. You have to hook them,” said Brouwer.

He says the best way to keep a reader hooked and interested is to keep them guessing and to subvert their ideas of what is going to happen.

If they think one thing is bound to happen surprise them by going in a completely new direction.

“You need to give the boring stuff, the who, what, where, when, but then you have to catch them, surprise them to make them want to keep reading,” Brouwer said.

When it comes to getting children to read, Brouwer suggests finding a connection, something they can relate to and subvert expectations.

This could be done through a silly or gross story that makes the child laugh or a connection through the main character.

It is the emotional connection that will make the child, and anyone really, want to read the story and find out what happens.

“Appeal to the heart, and you’ll hook them,” he said.

Brouwer also made a similar presentation at three elementary schools during the day. A few students from Steffie Woima, C.P Blakely and Our Lady of the Rosary brought their parents to the library to take in the presentation once again.

“If I can turn one child into a story ninja than I am satisfied,” he said referring to the term he uses to encourage children to become readers.



megan.roth@sylvanlakenews.com

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