Interview with Susanna Kaluza – How to get kids reading more

5 October 2019

Susanna Kaluza is the general manager of Literature House in Oslo and mum to three children. In her interview, Susanna shares tips on how she encourages her kids to read more.

Which book do you remember reading first as a child? My first memory is that my mom read to me. I remember we had a big, thick book with 365 stories for kids. The first book I loved that I read myself is a book I got in first grade called The History of Cleopatra. I remember her life story of forced marriage and rebellion, and the fact that she took over responsibility for a whole country made a deep impression.

How does reading benefit children? I think that disappearing into the world of others improves our empathy, while books provide knowledge that make it possible to better understand the world. Being fond of reading is the first step, so I am not so concerned about what the children read – whether it is sci-fi or comic books, the most important thing is that they themselves discover that reading is fun.

What do you want your children to get out of the reading experience? The most important thing is that they learn the joy of reading. 

How do you and the children get time to read on holiday and in everyday life? In everyday life we ​​have reading time every night before we go to bed. The big kids read for themselves, we also change who reads for little sister, often it will be her big brother who is nine years old. On holiday, books are an important part of the trip. To make it extra fun, the kids set themselves a measure of how much they think they will read during the summer and there may be a small prize at the end of the holiday for whoever achieves it.

Do you have any tips on how we can encourage children to enjoy reading more? The most important thing is to expose children to different types of books and to show them the joy of reading on their own. Personally, I am very fond of the library and usually take the children there regularly to let them pick out books. If you are in Oslo, you can bring the children to the Literature House. There we have children’s rooms on the third floor filled with exciting books for the little ones. Every Saturday we have programs including reading groups, illustrator sessions, and story playtime.

Do you have any tips for good books for children? My kids are 5, 9 and 11 years old. When I asked them which books they liked best, they shared their favourite titles: The Dog Man, Captain Supertruse, Tom Gates, The Boys in the Treehouse, Galactic Sausages, A Pingles Diary, Sci-fi Junior School, Superheroes Handbook, Dusted Diary, Superbitches, The Amulet series, Clue series and Harry Potter.

You use / have used reading apps with the kids – what do you think about handing over reading time with the kids to a phone or tablet? I think reading time on the phone or tablet is a nice addition but not a substitute for being read aloud to. It’s about being exposed to reading frequently and in different ways.

How do you find reading digital versus reading physical? I bought a Kindle almost ten years ago and love it. I still read lots of paper but it is very nice to be able to go on holiday with lots of books in my purse.

What can the children look forward to now that you have become general manager of the Literature House? They can look forward to a strengthened commitment to children and young people, lots of exciting author meetings and new ways of communicating. In addition, we will help the children understand more of the community they live in.