Reading should be fun! After a long day, or on rainy days, books should get you and your kids excited, not filled with dread. So grab your favourite, story themed toys (Paddington, anyone?) and follow these 10 tips to get reading back on the agenda and have some fun while you’re about it!
Put words in your home, and not just books. Put up signs, poems, magnets, anything that shows a love of words. Use a blackboard to write things out; not just chores and shopping lists, but sweet messages and fun surprises. They never know what will be on there. Every bit of reading helps!
Reading wordless picture books. Graphic books, picture books and comics are excellent for learning story structure and finding layers of meaning. Try the award-winning Tuesday by David Wiesner or The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.
Story soup. Print out simple pictures or illustrations from stories online (the crazier the characters and situations, the better). Cut the pictures out and put them in a basket. Take it in turns to fish random ones out, and try turning them into a story—as silly as possible! Move onto words and then sentences once you get the hang of it!
Be a book friendly home! Limit distractions, and make a fun reading corner with a book tent (a temporary sheet over a table, or a permanent teepee, if you have the room). Try a jungle of plants, or deck chairs, beach towels and sun-hats, just like a day at the beach.
Let the book fairy help! Books can help kids cope with life events. Getting a puppy? Starting a new school? Books can help when they’re feeling sad, or excited. Wrap it up with a bow and get the “book fairy” to send it, with a note—‘This will help you feel better. Love, the Book Fairy.’
Set a good example! How will your kids love reading if you never read? Get reading, even if you only have 5 minutes spare, make time! Give books as gifts, and pick them for yourself when visiting libraries (even if you don’t get around to reading them * sigh!).
Love libraries. Librarians are paid to make reading magical for kids. Check in at the front desk to see what activities might be going on. Bookmark the website, so you can see upcoming events. Help them associate the library, and books, with fun.
Bring books to life. Find book-inspired activities. If they love Three Billy Goats Gruff, take them to see some at the petting zoo. For books about the stars visit the planetarium. Find the setting for favourite books, go on that bear hunt (with teddies—it’s safer!). Look for ways to add details that remind them of books they love; food from the story, dressing up, there are so many ways to connect.
Make reading part of everyday life. Have them read easy picture books to younger siblings. It’s good practice, but won’t feel like work. Make sure when you bake together that they read the recipe out. It does have a recipe, right? Make a game of picking out funny names in movie credits, and ask for directions on road signs.
Find out more. Don’t just rush through a book ready to skip to the next, take time to find out more. Writers websites often feature reading resources to go with their books to dig deeper into the story. Use them! You can find a very dedicated list of authors’ and illustrators’ websites, here.