Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 15, 2016



READER OF THE DAY #51 Cristy Watson

Cristy is my sister’s neighbour and a writer. My sister, Laura, thought she might be a good candidate for READER OF THE DAY. Laura asked her, she agreed, and Cristy sent the following (PLEASE READ IT AND CONSIDER HOW WE CAN ALL HELP THE RELUCTANT READERS)

Today I was at Belmont Elementary in Langley, BC. I was heartened to see so many students attend the Scholastic Book Fair. Many left with their bag of treasures, and I know they will be reading tonight. For some, however, books do not interest them. So, while their classmates gathered tales of fantasy and science fiction, they hung out in the corners of the library, hoping to go unnoticed. I’ve known many of these young people over the course of my career. They are the youth who are reluctant, or struggling readers.

They won’t be taking books home, nor will they be reading tonight. As a teacher of these youth, I used to wonder how I could help them get hooked on reading. In the past, there were no books that would interest these teens and be at a low enough reading level that they could manage. It is only recently, that publishers have caught on to the need for hi-lo books – high interest and low readability. Both Orca (Currents and Soundings) and Lorimer (Sidestreets) are novels with savvy covers and contemporary, realistic fiction.

Boys especially, will be drawn to these books because they are at age-level in terms of both their topics, and interest. They deliver action-packed plots and fast-paced stories, while offering a grade two to grade four reading level. This is their appeal. I became a writer of these types of books because I want to be part of the solution. I want to help bring nonreaders, or struggling readers, to stories – I want to help get them hooked on reading.

As a young person, I didn’t struggle with reading. I read voraciously, every night. In elementary school, Beverly Cleary was one of my favourites, and I read almost every Nancy Drew Mystery, often finishing the entire book before bed. As I became a teen, I took an interest in realistic fiction. Back then, there were very few books written in this style, but I gobbled up every title I could find in the genre. “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret,” and “Trying Hard to Hear You,” were two of my favourites.

Then I discovered Robert Cormier, and he became one of my all-time favourite authors. “I am the Cheese” and “The Chocolate War” are two of his best books. Now, I read YA for pleasure, for research, and to suggest titles to the teens with whom I work. Recent favourites include “Word Nerd”, “Wonder”, “Whatever” and “Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children.”

In the high-lo category, favourites of mine include: “Vanish” and “Zee’s Way”. I recently participated in Read Aloud Day and I let the teens at Yorkson Creek Middle School know that part of the day was to bring books to kids around the world who don’t have access, but that it also was about engaging readers. So, read aloud to your students, and to your children. That will engage them in reading and may help to make them lifelong readers, themselves. For sure, that is how my reading journey started.

Cristy Watson (author of BENCHED, LIVING ROUGH, ON CUE and CUTTER BOY)

Cristy Watson books IMG_0612


  1. Thanks, Jock!! You are awesome and I so appreciate this oppportunity. I am receiving your blog emails and love reading the entries! Laura and Yves attended my book launch on Saturday. Great fun! Thanks again for including me. I will post this on my facebook page/blog so hopefully, you will also get more followers!!! Enjoy your day,


    Cristy Watson 604-534-7891, ext. 366 * I work Mon, Tues, Wed ________________________________

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