Today we welcome The Book Chook back to Kids’ Book Capers to talk about why Alex Rider gets Kids Reading.

Hi Book Chook, great to have you back here. Anthony Horowitz’s series has been credited with changing boys’ attitudes to reading. How important, for boy readers in particular is it that books like the Alex Rider series are available?

I know it’s not politically correct to generalize but I am rarely politically correct. Some boys aren’t attracted to fiction, but many of those who are need adventurous books which race along at high-octane level, ricocheting from one scrape to another.

Crocodile Tears has been simultaneously published as a traditional book, an e-book and an iPhone application. Do you think that offering these options is a good thing for  readers?

Yes! Some mourn the imminent demise of the printed book but I think that’s hooey. It’s not a case of either or. We need print books AND technology-driven applications. If a mum is queuing in the supermarket and she can hand her iphone to her three-year-old so the child can read a picture book on the device, great! But for bedtime reading aloud that night, perhaps real printed picture books are the answer.

I spend hours with a computer screen each day, so when I quit, I read print books for relaxation. But when we next go to China, I hope to have several books digitally stored on my iPad, so I can avoid excess baggage charges.

Do you have some tips of your own to encourage kids to read?

After loving your kids and respecting them, read to them. Read to them every day. Tell jokes, read riddles, write letters and notes. Dance, sing, pretend, paint, recite poetry, go to theatre performances, lie on the grass and cloud-watch. Read some more. Get to know the wonderful Australian children’s authors who have so much to offer our Aussie kids. Hang out at your local library. Make sure your kids see you reading and writing. Let your kids choose what they want to read, but sneak in an occasional favourite of your own. Make sure your home has books galore.

And if you can, get a big old Jacaranda tree for your backyard. They’re great places for reading.


by Lachlan – aged 12

Crocodile Tears is about Desmond McCain who started up a charity called first Aid and they always seemed to be the first ones there whenever there was a crisis.

Desmond intends to keep all the donations for himself and Alex has to stop it from happening.

I liked Crocodile Tears because I liked how Alex beat Desmond McCain in poker. I liked the Kikuyu Tribesman and how the writer used the location to fit them into the story. I liked the suspense in the story and it was hard to predict what was going to happen.

I didn’t like what happened to the RAW agent, Rahim.

People who enjoy fast-paced quirky action books will like this book.


TO ENTER OUR ALEX RIDER COMPETITION AND WIN FABULOUS PRIZES GO TO  http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/content/main/anthony-horowitz-promotion.shtml.

Published by

Dee White

Dee White lives with her husband and two sons in a small rural country town which has more kangaroos than people. She has worked as an advertising copywriter and journalist and has had numerous career changes because until recently, writing wasn’t considered to be a proper job. Letters to Leonardo, her first novel with Walker Books Australia, was published in 2009 to great critical acclaim.


  1. Anthony Horowitz was my son’s favourite author until recently. He read every copy he could get his hands on. But now, suddenly, he has stopped reading at 15. I buy him loads of good Aussie kids lit. Do either of you have any ideas to get him reading again? Deep down I think this may be temporary, as he is distracted by social media and computer games. He also plays soccer and guitar.

  2. I don’t think it’s an uncommon dilemma, Angela. I know the same thing has happened with my kids on occasions. After finishing a series they really enjoy, it’s almost like they don’t know what to read next.

    Here are some things that have worked with my boys. On a cold, miserable, day, sit down in the lounge room with hot chocolate drinks (and chocolate – I always find that can be persuasive). Pick out a book that you would like too – and start reading it together. I don’t think kids are EVER too old to enjoy a book with.

    If he’s into computer games, have you tried Gamer’s Quest by George Ivanoff or the Halo books (based on computer games)? I’d do anything to get him reading again – even if it’s leaving a biography by his favourite soccer player/guitar player on the coffee table so that he can ‘read it during the ad breaks’.

    Kids do get distracted with everything that goes on around them. Sometimes they seem to need that extra incentive like chocolate.

    If he doesn’t want to read with you, perhaps you could watch a movie together (that might be based on a book) and if you both enjoy the movie, you might get him interested in the book.

    Sometimes it’s just a case of finding another author/book they like – you can ask your local librarian for advice about this.

    if your son likes action adventure books, he might like the Matthew Reilly books or another young Australian author, Jack Heath.

    You could also try graphic novels or magazines to pique his interest.

    Good luck with this, Angela. I think you’re probably right that it’s just temporary. Sometimes it can be hard for teens to make time in their busy lives for reading – perhaps a certain time of night could be allocated for this purpose.

    I hope you find some of these suggestions helpful.


  3. My son went through a similar stage, Angela. He loved computer games and chatting online, but reading novels for school was torture, and in Year Nine he finally quit reading most fiction and nonfiction.

    I didn’t have anyone to suggest the great ideas Dee has put above. Basically, I left him alone and secretly worried. Changes started to happen slowly. He read web comics which led him to manga. He also read lots of walkthroughs, cheats, game instructions and magazines about games. Then he looked for novels set in game-type worlds – Warhammer for instance.

    My part in it all was small. I tried to take an interest in the little he did read that I could make head or tail of. I tried to understand novels that seemed like glorified comics and opened at the back. I tried not to nag and stay calm when his marks dropped in English. Needless to say, those “try”s indicate I only partially succeeded.

    Nowadays, he still loves graphic novels, but reads lots of satire, current affairs, and literary novels too, much of it way above my head.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that kids go through stages. If encouragement, game-related books and yes, chocolate don’t work, I would trust both your son and those instincts of yours, and try to be patient.

  4. I agree Book Chook. I know that I tend to PANIC when my kids ‘take a break’ from reading, but they always seem to find their way back there.

    I think we have to positively encourage them, then be patient and trust that they will rediscover their love of books – perhaps when they have a lull in their life – when things are not so hectic.

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