Julie Recommends

Franny K. Stein

I have received many e-mails expressing concern about children who never seem to pick up a book. I know many children who do not take pleasure in reading and rarely pick up a book. I am always on alert when I meet bright children who don’t read.

My first instinct is to look for visual problems, such as eyesight, tracking, and aim. Every so often, I meet a child who just doesn’t have the stamina to get through a chapter, let alone a book. I believe that reading is like running a marathon for these children and that we have to start small and work towards the finish line.

I have found a series to jump start an interest in reading, particularly for boys. The Franny K. Stein Mad Scientist series by Jim Benton has already made readers out of non-readers. Besides the zany, funny main character who conducts scientific experiments in her bedroom and the even crazier events that transpire, most chapters have approximately four pages. Each page is only three to five lines long and includes a captivating drawing. By having a drawing on every page, the reader is able to utilize visual cues to help process the story. My students are excited to finish a chapter, and are so proud that it only takes them a few minutes.

The recommended age group is 7-10 years old, but I share this series with younger kids as well.