True story. As a kid, I was a voracious reader. That love of words and stories quickly translated into strong reading and writing skills and, naturally, success in the classroom.

But Rob, a neighbour of mine who was a grade below me, was not so lucky.

Rob didn’t read (or write) for pleasure, as I did. In fact, his reading skills were below grade level. (It’s amazing the things you hear when you eavesdrop on mothers’ conversations…but perhaps that’s a story for another day!)

In any case, Rob was struggling at school.

So one day, my clever mother snagged a copy of The Hockey News from one of my brothers and dropped it off at Rob’s house. If you’re familiar with this publication you’ll know that it’s full of hockey-related lists, statistics, reports, stories and news in all sorts of forms.

Guess what? Over the course of that winter, Rob the non-reader began devouring The Hockey News and—surprise, surprise—his mother reported to mine that his reading and writing skills were showing a marked improvement.

The lessons we can take from this story?

If you want kids to read, provide material they’re interested in.

  1. Experiment. Kids are not “cookie-cutter” readers any more than adults are.
  2. Kids who read and write for their own entertainment will develop skills needed in the classroom and beyond.
  3. The Hockey News, comics and graphic novels, game guides—it’s all reading. It all counts.
  4. Reading should be, first and foremost, fun!

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