Words| Matt Stanton
A kid put up his hand in class. He was nine years old, sweaty and red from a lunchtime of running and laughing and he was raising his hand for one reason.
I had asked if anyone hated reading.
He wasn’t the only one either. In every school I visit, in every primary school class, there are kids who describe themselves as kids who hate reading.
There are a host of potential reasons for this – they’ve had difficulty learning the skill, they’ve struggled to be interested in the things they’ve had to read, they’re lacking in confidence etc.
But I’ve noticed that increasingly kids as young as eight or nine can choose to adopt this phrase and use it to define themselves: I hate reading.
I love meeting these kids. I look for these kids.
These kids are the reason I write my Funny Kid books.
I believe no one actually hates reading, even though there are certainly things we all hate to read. I might hate some movies but I don’t hate watching movies. I might dislike some music but I don’t dislike listening to all music.
Kids may not like the school readers they’ve had to bring home, but they’ll like reading video game packaging or things that interest them online.
If a child is saying they hate reading, all it means is they haven’t found something they’ve loved to read yet.
So we need a different way in.
This is why I write my Funny Kid series. Not every child says they love to read, but every child loves to laugh. So my job is to make every page as funny as I possibly can and to engage them from the moment they open the first page. I do this using words and illustrations and by ensuring that I’m speaking in their language.
Kids don’t need to read Funny Kid because they love reading. They can read it because they love laughing.
So when I get emails from kids like Eric who told me, ‘I never liked reading until I read Funny Kid’ it reminds me why I do what I do.
Because all it takes is one book to change everything.
Funny Kid Slapstick was released this month
Matt Stanton is a bestselling children’s author and illustrator, with more than half a million books sold. He is the co-creator of several bestselling picture books, including the mega-hits There Is a Monster Under My Bed Who Farts, and This Is a Ball. He launched his much-anticipated middle-grade series, Funny Kid, around the world in 2017. The first book in the series, Funny Kid for President, debuted as the #1 Australian kids’ book, and Funny Kid is fast winning legions of fans around the world. He lives in Sydney with his wife, bestselling picture book creator Beck Stanton, and their three young children.