With the massive influx of video games, it has become increasingly challenging for our children to get into the habit of reading. This is even more pronounced where young boys are concerned. This summer break I was amazed to see my two boys suddenly getting into reading in a big way and the books were none other than the popular children's books of "Geronimo Stilton." The mother in me was excited to see this budding interest in her boys. Seeing the older one immersed in these books somehow influenced the younger one too and in no time they were devouring one book after another.

I had already stacked our bookshelf with children's and middle-grade books but had despaired for a long time when they hadn't shown any inclination to read. Suddenly all that changed. They started excitedly discussing where to get the next stack of books – possibly from their friends in the neighborhood or maybe their schoolmates. What was it that built this sudden penchant for these books when they were so reluctant to read the children classics or the usual famous ones of Enid Blyton like the "Famous Five" and the "Secret Seven?" My nephew, another "Geronimo" fan, told me that it was the maps, factoid boxes, the treasure hunts and vibrant pictures that kept him engaged. My younger son said the dialogues made him laugh really hard in addition to loving the colored fonts while my older son loved the suspense and twists the stories entailed.

As I researched, I found a common thread as to why "Geronimo" was universally popular among children. The colorful illustrations, multi-shaped fonts, amusing dialogues accompanied by hilarious adventures were the main reason this series received a worldwide appeal. It is a series about a mouse named Geronimo Stilton. The writer Elisabetta Dami narrates the series through Geronimo's perspective who lives in New Mouse City, the capital of Mouse Island.

Most of the story is from a mouse's point of view like when he exclaims, ‘cheese slices,' because he hates Monday mornings or brushes his teeth with ‘cheddar-flavored' toothpaste. Geronimo is a publisher of one of the most famous newspapers on Mouse's Island, The Rodent's Gazette, although most of the time he keeps getting entangled in his crazy adventures.

The other characters accompanying him in his travels are his sister, nephew, and cousin, bringing in a family dynamic spattered with silly squabbles and repartee throughout the entire story. His sister Thea Stilton who works as a correspondent on Rodent's Gazette is the gusty one and often teases her brother about his nervous temperament.

Geronimo Stilton stands out in the reluctant reader boy book category

Amongst the reluctant readers' category, boys prove to be even more challenging and getting them to cultivate the habit of reading can be an uphill task. Sadly, in the world of literature there is a gender bias because when it comes to the choice of books, boys are often found to prefer those where the protagonist is a male.

They prefer "Harry Potter," "Horrid Henry," "Jungle Book" and "Hardy Boys" but scoff at books like "Malory Towers," "Heidi," "Nancy Drew" and all those with main female protagonists. Meanwhile, girls show no preferences whatsoever and are ready to read any kind whether the protagonist is a male or a female. Hence the best part of this series is that it appeals to both the genders.

Reluctant readers into book-lovers

Here with Geronimo acting as a journalist and Thea playing the detective, there is a huge action element involved, providing children with a lot of thrills and fun-filled adventures. The use of vibrant graphics and illustrations enhances the reading experience of the young readers.

The colored fonts of different shapes and sizes add more flavor and compliment the amusing tone of the stories. The quirky nature of the characters with their silly squabbles, fun banter, wacky puns and comical reactions leave children in a fit of endless giggles.

Some people have complained that the plot is weak and jumbled but we must keep in mind that the world of children is very simple and they just look forward to having fun in all their activities. The abundance of images coupled with the play-on-words engrosses readers to crave for more as reading becomes less and less daunting till it cultivates into a habit. As their interests remain alive, the young readers get used to sitting through an entire book and thereby growing into more independent readers.

The storyline is quick while the usage of many onomatopoeic words, similes, and other figurative language helps children to easily read through the chapters, giving them a sense of achievement. They gain more confidence in their reading abilities. Most words draw the attention of the readers as they are written in an eye-catching and fun way while at the same time helping them to expand their vocabularies. All in all, this series smoothen the transition of the young reluctant readers to more advanced chapter books.