Monday, August 19, 2013

Reluctant Readers Unite With Kai Strand!

Well, author Kai Strand's ready to start a revolution and I'm right behind her burning bras and killing the pigs. Wait...

That's not quite right. But I agree whole-heartedly with her excellent post. Time for me to shut up and let Kai tell it. And her new book sounds thirty shades of awesome!

 Reluctant Readers Unite! 

Anymore, kids are raised to think if they don’t read a minimum of twenty minutes a day they will end up as an adult begging on a street corner somewhere. That there is no success for an adult who didn’t embrace Catcher and the Rye or Animal Farm in their high school years.

But here’s the thing: it’s the adults in our lives pushing the reading. Elementary school teachers dutifully check our weekly reading logs and give us that disdainful look when we hand them an empty graph. Middle school teachers test our comprehension so often we no longer understand what we were supposed to understand in the first place. And analyzing the dreaded required reading in high school is enough to turn even the most passionate reader off of books for the next twenty years. It becomes a chore, like laundry or taking out the trash that we no longer look forward to.

Why don’t they just let us choose our own books and review them?

This is what I read. This is basically what it was about. This is what I liked about it. My favorite character was _____ because ____. I didn’t like _____ because ____. If I could improve one thing in the story it would be _____.

Reading can and should be fun. You should be able to choose the type of book you like to read and you should be able to tell someone why you like it. Do you enjoy war stories that depict what trudging through the jungle of Vietnam or hiding in emptied buildings in small town France during Word War II was like? Do you like graphic novels because you’d rather not read that the character has a lazy left eye and wears a studded collar when you can simply see it and get straight to the dialogue? Do you like fantasy because of the requirement of suspension of disbelief or the possibility of magic? Do you prefer a short book because you don’t have a lot of time to read and by the time you get to the end of a long book, you’ve forgotten the reason the character started their journey in the first place?

If you are a reluctant reader, I encourage you to try different types of stories and in different formats. Listen to a book you download from the library to your iPod. Read an electronic book on a Kindle or your phone. Talk to other readers about why they liked (or didn’t like) a particular book. Often their passion for a story will help you better decipher the book as you read it.

I can’t make your homework go away or change it to be more fun. For that I’m truly sorry. However, if your enjoyment of reading has been hampered by years of the wrong sort of reading, I encourage you to try something different. There is no better way to broaden your world than to lose yourself between the covers of a book. Then write a review on Amazon or Goodreads to say how you felt about it. Chances are if you do this often enough even your boring homework will become easier.

Kai’s most recent book, King of Bad, is a young adult fantasy and perfect for reluctant readers:

Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.

He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?

Buy it:
Publisher, Amazon, Barnes and Noble Add it to Goodreads

About the author:

When the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fire and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died, the end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for younger children Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Visit Kai’s website,, to download companion materials for her books or to find how to contact her.



  1. Thank Stuart for letting me rile up the masses! It's time something is done about boring required reading. (Waves a Flag "Down with The Odyssey - Long Live The Hunger Games")

  2. SO I'll admit I was the kid who loved the required reading, but I definitely think that allowing for different types of books would make a world of difference!

    1. Ha ha. I do realize they are great books, but some updating might be nice. I know some teachers use more current material. Thanks for stopping in Meradeth.

  3. Kai, I love nothing better than riling up the masses. Let's raise the roof. Hollah! Huckleberry Finn Rulz! Okay, settling down now, taking my medication.

  4. I agree that kids should be able to choose the books they read, especially if they are reluctant readers like I was. Why does it have to be a book on the AR list and why do the kids have to be bribed to read them by offering prizes? I used to read with one of my granddaughters and we'd act out the story to make it fun. Great post.

    1. Acting it out, how fun! Great idea. Glad you could stop in, Beverly.