Let’s talk about what to do if you have a reluctant reader on your hands. He may love to be read to, but when it comes time for independent reading, he resists. This was certainly the case in my own home, particularly when assigned reading started coming home from school. It was really difficult to interest him in the stories because he had no say in the material.
I’ve always been of the opinion that I don’t really stress about what my son reads (within reason, of course), as long as he’s interested in spending time with books. With that in mind, I present to you my recommendation for a foolproof path to independent reading for the 7-9 year old boy, the Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey.
If you’re already familiar with the series you might be rolling your eyes already. But I am here to tell you that each time my son has gotten a new volume, he reads it cover to cover, nonstop, for 90 minutes at a time He doesn’t even stop to ask for a snack, which you may also recognize as a true miracle!
Mr. Pilkey is a prolific writer and the Dog Man series currently boasts 8 books, with a 9th to be released in September 2020. For the uninitiated, the premise of the series is this: George Beard and Harold Hutchins of Captain Underpants fame discover an old comic they created when they were younger. It begins with a police officer who works with a canine companion. They are involved in an accident and it is determined that the only way to save both of their lives it to… wait for it… sew the head of the dog onto the body of the man. And would you believe it? The unprecedented surgical procedure combining the body parts of two different species is a total success!
From this point on, Dog Man is completely accepted as a member of society and in fact, the very next day after his transformation, he begins working at a new precinct, under the watch of a much beleaguered chief named… Chief. Each volume of the series follows Dog Man, Chief and assorted friends as they protect the city primarily from the dastardly plans of the evil orange cat Petey, though there are often other formidable foes who seek to ruin the day.
Each book is presented in a graphic novel/comic strip style and number around 250 pages. Readers of the Captain Underpants series will recognize the ‘Flip-O-Rama’ featurettes sprinkled throughout and there are several pages at the end of each book that teach readers how to draw some of their favorite characters.
In true comic book style, the dialog is somewhat concise and limited but again, for me it’s about the engagement with the book and encouraging my child to select material that aligns with his interests. The entire series relies on outrageous story lines, ridiculous enemies and yes, what some might consider ‘toilet humor’. Only you can decide if you’re okay with your son reading these books but again, if you’re like me, you recognize that a child engrossed in a book for over an hour is a thing of beauty. Consider this series if you’re interested in witnessing a modern day miracle in your own home!