How to raise your kids to be readers | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022


American author Peter Lerangis was the latest author brought in by National Book Store to meet his Philippine readers.


The best-selling writer is popular among young readers as one of the authors behind the exciting “39 Clues” series, a set of intertwined adventure stories with each volume written by different authors like Rick Riordan (the “Percy Jackson” series) and Gordon Korman (“Swindle,” “One False Note”).


Lerangis was also here to promote “The Colossus Rises,” the first book from his latest “Seven Wonders” series. The series centers on 14-year-old Jack McKinley’s race against time to find seven magic objects hidden in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.


“I’ve always been interested in the Seven Wonders,” says Lerangis. “We visited the island of Rhodes in Greece, and it was fascinating because you get a real sense of how immense it must’ve been to have built the Colossus—-just imagining the technical difficulty for the ancients to have built it—how could they have supported it?” he muses.


This made him obsessed to know more about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, how and why they were chosen to be one of the seven. This then gave birth to his latest series.


The series is not Lerangis’ first—you may have been a longtime fan of his, since the prolific writer has written over 160 books, majority of which were ghostwritten for popular series like “Sweet Valley Twins” and “The Baby-Sitters Club.”


Changes in the landscape


Having written for several generations, Lerangis has noted changes in the book landscape for today’s young readers. “Middle-grade books are not so different, like the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ read just as well now as they did back then. The only difference is in what kids do now, with handheld devices and video games, that’s changed, but the kinds of stories they like are pretty much the same,” he says.


Writing for today’s middle-grade reader requires a little more action, though. “Their attention spans are less now than what they used to be. Some of the older books lose readers; even though they’re so brilliant, kids check out after a chapter or two because they think it’s too slow,” says Lerangis. “You want to start your first page or chapter with a bang so that you grab them right away.”


Like most writers, Lerangis was an avid reader before creating his own stories. When he was young, he was a fan of adventure tales, lapping up stories by Jack London and Edgar Allan Poe. “I loved Jack London because he could create a physical response inside me that was thrilling. He could make me feel freezing cold on a summer night because of his descriptions of the North Pole,” he recalls.


He gives credit to his parents for encouraging him to read at a young age. “My parents had a hard time because they grew up in the Depression. They were not creative or literary people, but they recognized that I was interested in books and they did everything they could by reading aloud to me and bringing me to the library,” he says.


PETER Lerangis’ “Seven Wonders Book 1: The Colossus Rises”

Reading aloud to children turns them into readers, says Lerangis. He used to read aloud to his two sons when they were younger. “Every night, that was a part of our family ritual, and they looked forward to it,” he adds. “They loved hearing stories, and when they got older they loved reading them, particularly my older son, who read even the phone book,” he says with a chuckle. “I think the encouragement came from the nightly reading aloud.”


With today’s slew of iPads and gadgets creating an irresistible pull for kids, Lerangis says that reading aloud is still key. “I think every parent should take their kid before they go to bed, open up a book and read to them. You don’t have to be good at it, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s your time together, it brings the family together,” he says.


“If reading is important to the parents, it’ll become important to the kids. It also helps to model the behavior; if parents are reading a lot, the kids will pick that up, too,” he adds. “If you have a ritual where you clear aside everything and you open up a book and let the child’s imagination go wild before they sleep, it will inspire them to value that,” says Lerangis.


“Seven Wonders Book 1: The Colossus Rises” by Peter Lerangis is now available at National Book Store, Powerbooks and Bestsellers.

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