We all know that the more a child reads, the better their academic performance will be. It is a well-established fact that children who have been read to regularly from a young age will outperform those who do not.
Clark and Rumbold (2006) listed the following benefits of reading regularly:
• Reading attainment and writing ability;
• Text comprehension and grammar;
• Breadth of vocabulary;
• Positive reading attitudes;
• Greater self-confidence as a reader;
• Pleasure in reading in later life;
• General knowledge;
• A better understanding of other cultures;
• Community participation; and
• A greater insight into human nature and decision-making.
So, we know that reading is good for children, but how can we make it more fun? After all, the long-term goal is to get our children wanting to read and actively seeking out books to read. Ultimately, we want to create adults who have a lifelong passion for books.
To do that, we of course will need to sit and read stories at bed times or whenever it fits into our family routine, but to introduce a real love for reading, we have to go above and beyond that.
So, here are 5 activity ideas to help you make your reading journey interactive and fun!
Build A Reading Zone
I know for some people space around the home is at a premium, but however much space you have, I really think creating some form of reading area is important.
In the photo, you can see the reading area I created for Arlo. It has a comfy place to sit and access to child-sized shelving with books forward facing and therefore easy to browse and select from. I always prefer to have a small selection of books which face forwards than a huge selection of books inside a box. The problem with storing all of your books in a box is it makes it very difficult to see which one you want to read and therefore it is unlikely to hook your child's interest. Instead, regularly rotating a random selection means there is always something fresh to read and they can choose one based on the bright pictures.
You'll notice that this is simply the corner of the room next to our Montessori shelf. It was the best location in my home, but you really could put it anywhere!
Finally, you might notice that I have included a few stuffed bears. These are reading buddies and a concept I have used in school as a teacher and at home. The idea is for your child to choose who their buddy is for the day and read them a story. Of course, Arlo is too young to read words right now, but he will still sit and explain what he can see in the book to his buddy. For example, he might say 'This page is a farm. I can see a tractor!' and so on. It is a great early comprehension skill and a brilliant way to build vocabulary.
Read In Different Ways
I am sure when I say 'reading' the first thing you think is books, but there are plenty of different ways to enjoy reading. You could pick out a favourite magazine, kids newspaper or even an audiobook.
Exposure to different types of media is really important and a great way to broaden your child's reading horizon!
This is always a hit with Arlo. In fact, I use it time and time again to get us through things like long journeys, doctors waiting rooms and those times you need a quick 5 minutes to get something done.
The idea is to grab some post-it notes and stick them across various pages in your child's book. It might be to cover a picture, certain words or even the headings. Your little one will have so much fun removing the post-it notes to reveal what's hidden underneath.
If your little one is older, you could add some instructions or drawings to the post-it notes. For example, you could stick a few on the front cover and draw images of things that are mentioned in the book. They will then need to find them within the book and put the post-it on the right location. For example, if your character visits a duck pond, stick the post-it note with a duck drawn on across the pond.
Alternatively, you could write words that are mentioned in the book, so your child has to find the word and stick the post it note on top. Finally, you might ask questions for example 'Stick this where the snake lives.' etc.
Create Props or Costumes
A great way to enjoy a book is to really make it come to life! Whatever book you are reading, whether fiction or non-fiction, you can use the same techniques to explore the books themes.
Here are a few ideas:
Create a costume so you can dress up as the lead character or a narator.
Decorate some spoons to show they points or objects in the book.
Decorate some wooden pegs to become each character. You can add scraps of material for clothes etc.
Paint stones to show the characters.
Create a feelings graph. This is where you draw a blank graph and follow the characters mood through the story (or your emotions as you read it). Starting at the centre, happy emotions bring the graph higher, sad emotions bring the graph lower.
Use a shoebox to create a diorama of a part in the story.
Do some art work on the pavement in chalk.
Draw pictures of the characters with small changes. For example: What would the Gruffalo look like if he was part giraffe?
Use natural resources like twigs and leaves to recreate settings from the book.
Get Out & About!
My final tip for enhancing your reading is to take your reading out and about! Why not take your books for a picnic in the park? Go and visit a library. Learn about knights at a castle or woodpeckers in the woods. Take your favourite duck book to show it where the real ducks live. It is a great experience to read out in the glorious sunshine or even frosty snow!
Taking your books outside will help to merge the experiences on the page with those of real life, especially if you can find some way to link what they are reading about with what they will see in front of them.
So, there you have it, 5 ways you can spice up your child's reading experience! Which one will you try first? Let me know in the comments!