Originally created 06/02/04

A ruse for reluctant readers



If youngsters in your house aren't interested in reading, no matter how often you read to them, no matter how many books you introduce, try something from the "books lite" menu. Go for a coloring or activity book.

Two of the latest offerings from Dover Publications are Horses: Stained Glass Coloring Book (16 pages, $5.95) and Color Your Own Flower Seed Packet Illustrations (30 pages, $3.95). These intricate, realistically rendered outlines provide craft lovers with a chance to tackle a new project ‹ never mind that it comes in book format. When they finish these books, take children to the book store or library to browse for another "project." They will begin to associate books with fun activities, and the leap across the gap to reading words for pleasure becomes more narrow.

Another book that helps with the one-step-at-a-time approach to piquing interest in reading is Scribbles: A Really Giant Drawing and Coloring Book by Taro Gomi (Chronicle Books, $15.95). It has more than 300 pages on which to color and draw, including puzzles, games and cut-out crafts. Its premise is the same as the the Uncoloring Books series, which encourage creativity and have been popular for years.

As they flip through Scribbles to decide which page to complete, kids will read without thinking about it. For example, a page with the outline of an empty plate has a sentence at the top that reads, "Draw something good to eat." Another page with minimalist renderings of a cat, dog and giraffe reads, "Draw these animals some clothes and shoes."

Other complete-the-drawing scenarios:
‹ "Wham! It's a fly ball! Draw the person who's going to catch the ball."
‹ "Draw some ducks on the pond."
‹ "Make up a recipe using rice. Draw the finished product."
‹ "This man needs a moustache. This one needshair."
‹ "Oh, no! It's a wolf! Make sure he doesn't eat the pigs."
‹ "Draw babies. Make them as cute as you can."
‹ "The passengers are throwing confetti."
Froggy Plays in the Band(Puffin; ages 2 to 6) is now available in paperback. That's good news on the financial front, especially for Froggy fans who beg parents to get the latest installment in the series about the lovable hopper. Hardbacks cost $15.99; paperbacks go for $5.99. The latest escapade involves Froggy forming a ragtag marching band to compete for a prize at the Apply Blossom Parade. Count on a pratfalls, puns and fun.

Jonathan London writes the books, and Frank Remkiewicz illutstrates them. Other titles include Froggy Bakes A Cake, Froggy Learns to Swim, Froggy's Baby Sister, Froggy Goes to Bed, Froggy Plays Soccer, and Let's Go, Froggy!Brandy is a writer for the Jacksonville (Fla.) Times-Union. You can reach Brandy Hilboldt Allport at brandy.allport@jacksonville.com or (904) 359-4378.