Ideas for Reading Activities
Teaching Your Child to Love Reading
We all want to make reading a priority for our children, but how can we do it? Here are ten fun and easy activities you can do together with your child. The activities are designed either to demonstrate how useful reading can be, or to help your child understand the stories they are reading in greater depth, helping them to enjoy reading more.
10. Play a Board Game Together
This one’s pretty simple, but to add a little reading to it, go through the directions with your child, acting out each direction with the pieces, cards, etc. This will put reading into a fun context. Context is key: remember, the activity here is playing, not reading. However, in order to get to the game, a little reading is necessary.
Learn to make puppets!
9. Read a Story and Act it out With Puppets
Find and read a familiar story with at least three or four characters. Make puppets for all the characters (don't worry, this is easier than it seems), and then act out the story together. This will help your child get “into” the story, reinforcing the connection between the words on the page (which can seem abstract and disconnected) and real events.
FYI, the puppets do not need to be Henson-level masterpieces. Kids love ugly puppets, too!
8. Guess Who?
This game involves describing someone (family member, close friend, teacher, etc.) whom your child has to guess. Take turns and switch roles, so that your child is guessing as well as describing. As your child gets better, try to focus less on physical characteristics (“this woman is blond”) but rather actions and personality traits (“this man is always playing the guitar,” or “this girl loves to dance”). Although this activity doesn’t involve reading per se, you will be surprised how much it makes the characters in your books come alive for your child.
7. Draw a Map
Have your child draw a map of your house, yard, neighborhood, etc. This game helps to reinforce how something that seems abstract (a map, or words on a page) can connect to something real (your house, or the setting of a story).
6. Take Your Child to the Library
Show your child how many books are out there. Make it a regular activity, or even make going to the library a reward for good behavior.
5. Read a Story and Act it out With Toys
Have your child act out a familiar story with stuffed animals or action figures. Ask a lot of questions, in particular why certain characters do what they do. Making your child actively think about motivation this way will help him understand the stories he reads.
4. Read and Make a Recipe Together
Find a dish that is fun and tasty (and perhaps even healthy?), read the recipe with your child, and make it together. The idea is to emphasize the connection between reading – which can seem artificial and distant to young readers – and the very real activities of cooking and eating.
3. Guess the Next Part
The next time you read a story, stop at a critical plot point. Ask your child to tell you what happens next. Like several of the other activities listed above, this is designed to increase your child’s grasp of plots and characters. For really young kids, it might help to start with books they have already heard, then start mixing in new books. If your child is a little older, and you're reading a book she's already read, have her invent the next part of the story. Another alternative is to read a poem, and let her make up the next line, making sure it rhymes.
2. Read a Story and Talk About It
Whether it’s a poem, a picture book, a comic book for kids, the medium doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you discuss the story and all its elements. Ask your child to describe the setting. Talk about the plot, and why things happened the way they did. Ask which characters your child liked or didn’t like. If you are interested and excited about the story, your child will be, too.
Need a Starting Point?
1. Help Your Child Write and Illustrate a Story
Set your child’s imagination free. Have him make up a story, including a plot, characters, setting, etc. Depending on his age, ask questions about it; see if you can get him to think about why characters do what they do. Then help him write the story down, and illustrate it if you’d like (sometimes a picture is really worth a thousand words).
Getting your child to enjoy reading can be a challenging goal for any parent. Helping her understand the stories in a more meaningful way, and putting reading into a real-world context are two powerful ways to achieve it.