The Rights of the Reader

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I first discovered Daniel Pennac’s The Rights of a Reader in Donalyn Miller‘s The Book Whisperer Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child.

The Rights of the Reader

Pennac’s “Rights” remind us that we can empower our children as readers! There used to be a beautifully Quentin Blake illustrated printable poster of Pennac’s Rights of the Reader but it has been removed from the Internet. You can buy the book here or view this image instead.


The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac includes:

The right to skip pages.

The right to read anywhere.

The right to reread.

Why is this important? Because if children are to see themselves as readers, they must be in charge, they must have ownership about their reading.

This is why reading experts say giving children choice is so important!

Have a dialogue with your kids about their own reading habits, and then provide Pennac’s list of rights later as an endorsement of what they have already shared.

Rights of a Reader

Book Choice

Book choice isn’t a free-for-all, it can and should be very meaningful . . .

1.  Help your child self-select books at a “just-right” reading level using the 5-Finger Test.

2.  Share how you pick a book.

My process: I always check out the cover and then read the back. If I’m still interested, I open up the book to the middle and do a quick read-through. Sometimes I put a book back if I don’t see any dialogue. Sometimes, if the font is too small, I put it back.
What about you? What’s your process? Have you shown your kids?

3. Experiment together with different ways of choosing books at the library.

My kids are often impulsive book choosers – just dumping books into their library bag. But, if they can have some criteria, even using the colors or pictures, it’s a good start. We’re working on being more thoughtful. As children grow, they’ll develop more sophisticated methods. Especially with your help.

The Rights of the Reader

4. Talk about the selection process.

Will he or she refine the book selection process? Add in something? Take out something?

5. Bring out The Rights of the Reader if it’s appropriate. Use it to empower your child as a reader.

And, don’t worry. Just because they’re into Captain Underpants and won’t read anything else, it’s okay. It’s still reading and just a phase; it will pass.

The Rights of the Reader

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Reading Challenges

Get a list of fun reading challenges for your kids to do this year: A Year of Reading Challenges.

Go to this post to read the best books about the library.

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  1. Great post – these are such important points. I have kept my daughter’s books and now my grandchildren enjoy them.. of course we are continually adding fabulous new books to their shelves. We always look at the cover first and wonder together about what the story might be about before we open to the first page.. The reward for being a parent is becoming a grandparent with the added bonus of sharing their books with them…

  2. love it. i work with teens in a public library and as i’m hand-selling a book, often i’ll casually give them “permission” to stop reading if the book doesn’t interest them. the reactions are crazy. they’re so used to being required to slog through text that bores or offends them (or hurts their eyes -small text) that they don’t know what to do with the freedom…actually, they are usually more enthusiastic than ever about reading that particular book. 🙂 which makes me extremely happy. great post.