Max Anderson

Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a reluctant reader. After surveying the market, he sense the need for action-adventures and mysteries for readers 8 – 13, especially boys. Using his extensive experience in the production of motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, Mr. Anderson brings the same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to his stories. Each book has completely different characters, setting, and plot. He’s also begun a traditional series. Seven books are published, with an additional twenty-nine manuscripts completed. Young readers have reported that reading one of his books is like being in an exciting or scary movie. Visit Max at: Books for Boys Blog, Author Web Site, Video - Captain Jack's Treasure, or My Youtube Videos.

Max Anderson

Reading with Kids Is Important

Ever heard yourself say, “If only I knew then what I know now”? It happens more frequently for me now that my wife and I are newly minted grandparents. Sometimes I wonder how our kids ever made it to adulthood. Not really, but so much has changed since they were small children. I could probably write a book just about all the changes from when we were raising our little ones.

Back then we volunteered to take care of children in the church nursery. People came and went as the pleased, and all we had to do was hold the babies and change them. This summer we volunteered in the nursery again, to give the regular workers a break. Now it’d be a little like breaking into Fort Knox for a parent to try to retrieve a child without the proper identification. We had to wear rubber gloves, be aware of food allergies, and take a class to comply with all the rules and regulations.

Well, great changes have also come in other areas of child development, language, reading, and more.

I had encouraged our son to start talking to his daughter before she was born, so she’d recognize his voice and possibly be soothed by it. Turns out, talking to small children is recommended as a major element in the learning process. The following quotes are from Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen, a Harvard professor.

“A rather stunning body of research is emerging that suggests that starting these reforms at kindergarten, let alone in elementary, middle, or high school, is far too late. 98% of education spending occurs after the basic intellectual capacities of children have been mostly determined.”

“This particular strand of research is teaching us that a significant portion of a person’s intellectual capacity is determined in his or her first 36 months.”

“Children of talkative college-educated parents [hear] their parents speak 48 million words” by the time they are three years old. “In contrast, children in welfare families had heard 13 million words. Interestingly, the most powerful of these words … seemed to be those that were spoken in the first year of life—when there was no visible evidence that the child could understand what the parents were saying.”

Researchers have “found a powerful, direct correlation between the number of words the child had heard and the size of the child’s vocabulary …” as well as with the child’s IQ.

“There is a strong and well-documented correlation between the breadth of vocabulary and performance on examinations for reading comprehension.”

Child development experts suggest starting the process at birth to receive the best benefits. In this way, the child’s listening skills are formed early.

• Children learn to sit still and focus
• Comprehension and understanding of events (cause-and-effect relationships) is enhanced
• Vocabulary is increased as children discover new words
• A child’s ability to guess meanings of new words increases
• Children become more confident because they know they are cared for and loved and because they can express their thoughts and needs
• Imagination and creativity are encouraged and fed
• Children are better enabled to make friends and good relationships because their communication skills are increased
• Learning in all subjects becomes much easier because the brain is literally being wired to learn and take in new information
• Family bonds are strengthened and reinforced, creating an atmosphere of love, trust, and communication in the home

Our son and his wife talk to their daughter, Grace, constantly. They also began reading to her when she was only a few weeks old. I was fascinated to watch her lock in on each page and reach out to touch the pictures.

My association with an organization called Knowonder has also revealed new interesting information concerning hearing and seeing words. Knowonder is producing picture books along with a new app, which parents will be able to “turn off” the pictures in a picture book so that a child won’t be distracted by the drawings. This helps the child zero in on the letters and the words. The app will include an audio track so children can listen to the story and follow the words on each page. Parents can opt to use any or all of the features with each story, thus getting the most value from reading time.

Parents and grandparents must also commit to turning off the distractions of TV, video games, and other devices so children can concentrate on reading. Here’s what one parent wrote to me:

The key is to raise boys in homes where the TV, video games, and computer are simply off or nonexistent. I did that while raising my son. He read at the tenth grade level by age five and was reading 800 pages of books, like Tolkien’s trilogy, by age seven. All of his SAT, SAT II, and ACT composite scores were perfect, and he was accepted to MIT, Caltech, Cornell, Duke, etc. For a long time, other parents would either assume that I pushed him or that he naturally did all this on his own. Now they beg me to help their honor students to improve their SAT reading scores or get into the schools my son did and their kids didn’t.

Parents today act helpless when, in fact, they have abdicated their roles as the primary educators of their children. They have a million and one excuses.

It all starts in the home. It’s a generational, deep-seated values issue. But individual parents can choose to raise readers. I did, and he ended up choosing between full rides to the top engineering colleges on the planet.

Here are additional research snippets on the value of reading to and with your child every day:

“Forty percent of American children enter kindergarten lacking at least some of the skills needed for a successful learning experience. For too many children, the preschool years have left them without the language skills necessary for literacy acquisition.” (Reading Across the Nation: A Chartbook, Nov. 2007)

“For every year you read with your child, average lifetime earnings increase by $50,000. You make a $250,000 gift to your child from birth to age five by reading aloud, just 20 minutes a day!”(

“A kindergarten student who has not been read aloud to could enter school with less than 60 hours of literacy nutrition. No teacher, no matter how talented, can make up for those lost hours of mental nourishment.” (Source: U.S. Dept. of Education, America Reads Challenge, 1999. “Start Early, Finish Strong: How to Help Every Child Become a Reader” Washington, D.C.)

“We have learned that for 90% to 95% of poor readers, prevention and early intervention programs . . . can increase reading skills to average reading levels. We have also learned that if we delay intervention until nine years of age, approximately 75% of the children will continue to have difficulties learning to read throughout high school.” (G. Reid Lyon, Director, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development)

Parents and grandparents, remember that readers are the leaders others follow.


River Rampage