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Making Reading Fun for Children
I have been working mostly with my own children to encourage reading. My children’s school has been vital for teaching my children to read but I feel that primarily parents need to be the ones encouraging children to read versus our schools.
Having a book that is fiction or non-fiction to write a report about or receive a pop quiz from may teach valuable study ethics but it will not teach a love of reading.
When I was a teen, I wasn’t fond of the soapy YA fiction books that were recommended by my school. I read them anyway for extra credit, but I would have preferred reading other books.
Don’t assume just because of its genre that a book is not fine literature. Some people make this mistake and forego some very thoughtful books. In addition, non-fiction books can be both creative and pleasurable. Effective pairing of non-fiction books with fiction books on the same subject can make them even more so.
Some signs of real success with your child’s love of books are that they would rather use their allowance to purchase books than toys and you catch them sneaking and reading their books when they are supposed to be sleeping. It doesn’t matter if they are perfect readers or not. Obviously, they are falling in love with books!
Here are some suggestions to help encourage your little ones to fall in love with books.
1. Make popcorn and read to your kids. Having ‘Popcorn and Book Night’ versus ‘Movies and Popcorn’ can be more meaningful to your child when getting to spend time with mom or dad.
2. Have your own book fair for your kids. This one was a huge hit at my house. Sometimes kids might want the same book so keep that in mind if you have more than one child that will be attending. Buy the books without the kids along and you have better control of the price.
3. Make a healthy snack based on a book.
4. ‘Book Cooks’ is a good book with story based recipes for parents and teachers that want to involve kindergarten age children in cooking. The book design is with a classroom in mind and most recipes do not need a heat source. It also includes several reading based activities that are fun for kids.
5. Here is a blog that has many cool activities based on books. http://shannonsbooknook.com/
6. Take your kids to the school book fair and give them a little spending money to make their own purchases.
7. Host a small book party that is for family members only or let your little ones invite a few special friends. Your book party can be part of a birthday celebration or celebrating when a new book in a series is available.
8. Buy a book for a child just because.
9. Ask a child to read to you. You can even play school with the child being the teacher.
10. Create your own summer reading program. This went very well last year! I chose prizes that were age appropriate and cost effective. Tip - Check out the Dollar store for great prizes.
11. Give books for Christmas along with toys and clothes. Give books just because you love them.
12. Create puppets together based on a book.
13. Make your own book award for your blog or have a favorite children’s book and promote it. I used to do this when I had a newsletter.
14. Create art based on your favorite books together.
15. Trips to the library are free and many have summer reading programs for kids.
16. Buy books from local authors. There is nothing like a signed book. Also, check to see if there are any local writing groups.
17. A school can encourage reading even with a limited budget. Many schools will have the school principal do a funny stunt in exchange for returned reading logs. The key is making sure the parents know about the stunt by sending a flyer home with the children and putting it on the school’s website. Not all children have the verbal or communication skills to inform parents.
18. Create your own e-books for your children using photos and text. It’s a really fun way to get children involved with reading.
19. If you have a Kindle or iPad, you can read Kindle e-books to your child. Many independent electronic books are from .99¢ to $4.99. It’s affordable and you save on gas. There are also many FREE electronic books on Amazon and other sites which of course costs nothing but your time.
20. You can read a novel to a child a chapter at a time.
21. If a child has a favorite movie or TV show, many times there are similar books. If your child has a specific episode they like that deals with camping or dinosaurs, you can also find children’s books on camping or dinosaurs.
22. Book related gift baskets could be a fun gift for an older child. Consider filling it with related toys and snacks.
23. The website http://starfall.com can be useful for teaching early reading skills. The basic version is free but there is a fee for the extended version of Starfall.com.
24. Read a short book as your kids get ready for school. This reading time could be during breakfast or a few minutes before leaving for school. It’s not just reading time; it’s bonding time as well.
25. The band ‘They Might Be Giants’ DVD, and CD ‘Here Comes the ABCs’ that teach kids their ABCs and other reading concepts along with fun music. They also have math and science music.
26. Flash cards can be effective but make sure they are also fun. Some children love flash cards and others hate them. I taped up a box with duct tape and put a slit in it and we fed the box the flash cards. Duct tape comes in many colors and patterns now and that makes it more fun. You could also tape paper and draw a silly face on the box.
27. For school - Have a used book drive at school. Books can then be re-sold at school carnivals or a Christmas store. Books should be from .25¢ to $2.00.
28. Help children safely bake a cake or make pudding and practice reading the instructions on the boxes. Boxed cake mixes often have visual pictures to help as well.
29. Practice by helping them read the menu while going out to eat.
30. Some fun phonic book sets come with eight to twelve small books in a set and are perfect for early readers. You can easily purchase them on Amazon.com.
31. Give books as rewards for good behavior.
32. Grocery ads are a great way to teach recognition. Remember to remove the toy ads first.
33. Play ‘Which Hand Holds the Letter’. Then children can also guess the letter.
34. Play ‘Living Flash Cards’. This is for preschool age children. I learned this from a friend who used to work in a Montessori school. Though this isn’t a strictly Montessori activity, since it can done with objects around the house. Gather toys and objects that all start with the same letter and practice the sounds. Let them touch and feel the objects. Letter ‘B’ could be boat, ball, bear, book, and bread. Letter ‘D’ could be Doll, dish, and dinosaur.
35. Play ‘Secret Agent’. Write backwards using a mirror so when they hold the finished message they can read it by holding it to the mirror.
36. Adapt word games for children 5 and over so there is less competition.
37. Create a pirate map and the children use it to search for the treasure that is a chest full of books and a few stickers and treats. You don’t even have to use new books. Older books they used to love but haven’t read in a while will work. I used older books and gifts I already had on hand.
38. Get a sheet of computer paper and fold it like a booklet. Now glue the creases with a glue stick or lightly with regular school glue. Let the children make up their own book. Besides the drying time with some glue, this is a super-fast activity to set up.
39. Find Joy in everyday Reading. Reading can lead to learning but also enchantment and wonder.
Art by me
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