Here are our top ten tips for folks who are looking to help their kids become better readers and have fun along the way!
Whether it's a friend looking for advice or a random person at the bookstore, we get a lot of requests regarding kids' books and reading!
I've spent quite a bit of time around books and teaching. Throughout that time, I've been trained in a variety of reading programs, taught reading in a public school and managed a school-wide reading program.
Above and beyond all of that, I'm a parent!
With all of those experiences, I've learned a thing or two about kids and reading. I've also learned that everyone is different and what works for one kid may not fly with another!
So, here's a list of tips that may offer a bit of help if you're looking for it!
And I think of tips and advice like a buffet...take what works, and leave the rest for another time or someone else!
1. Go Where The Books Are!
Make it fun and part of your weekly routine! Once, twice, more if the mood strikes, take your reader to where the books are.
Lose yourself in a library or wander among the stacks in a bookstore!
Story time, after-school and weekend programs, crafts, speakers, games and art lessons are just some of the many extras that public libraries offer!
(Edited: Even if your area library is temporarily closed for browsing and is just doing materials pick-ups, libraries have great online resources and plenty of access to books, dvds, cds, magazines and more!)
2. Find Out What They're Into!
Is your reader into fantasy? Bring on those alternate worlds and dystopian novels!
Does your kid enjoy comic books or graphic novels? My brothers and I loved those as kids!
We used to read them and then try to imitate the great graphics! They're perfect for budding artists or kids who just can't get enough of illustrations!
Biographies, computers, space, art, animals? Just follow your kid's yellow brick road and encourage the journey!
Don't worry if it's on the right reading level or if it's considered 'classic literature!'
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Harry Potter books have done an amazing job of helping kids to read fluently and have fun doing it!
3. Reader's Choice!
Just like clothes shopping, if you pick it out, maybe your kid will like it, but if your reader picks it out, the chance of success goes up exponentially!
When my daughter was into fairies, she searched high and low and got a hold of every fairy book in sight!
The same happened for bunnies, Nancy Drew and Percy Jackson and eventually Jane Austen, Agatha Christie and other classic titles!
Choosing for themselves is a great way for kids to have the opportunity to find and immerse themselves in a subject or series that really gets them excited!
4. Read Plenty of Easy Stuff!
Yes, that's right! Want your reader to improve? Give them plenty of reading materials that are easy to read.
Think of it like running or some other sport; you can't go from a mile jog straight to a marathon!
Reading is the same way...it takes time, practice and consistency to improve!
Reading plenty of books and magazines that are easy will allow your reader to gain confidence, fluency and enjoy whatever they're reading!
5. Go Places, Meet People, Do Things!
Want to really get kids into reading? Do fun stuff that goes along with books!
Above: We had a great time at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art!
We went to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to view the Paddington Exhibit and had the opportunity to meet R. W. Alley - the most recent illustrator for the Paddington picture books!
The Paddington exhibit was great for all ages with plenty of interactive parts to enjoy for the younger set!
Thinking about visiting the Eric Carle Museum? Check out the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art website to see current and upcoming exhibits!
You can also take a peek here at one of our trips to the Eric Carle Museum to see more!
Reading about pioneer life? Find a recipe from the time period, go without electricity for a night or make your own butter!
We had a lot of fun reenacting the frozen laundry scene from The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder!
Below: We put the shirts outside (overnight) in the winter. We also put a couple in the freezer and that worked really well too!
Reading spy stuff? Make some invisible ink, a periscope, play a game of observation or put together a disguise!
No time or energy to do these fun extras? Get the movie!
Hey, we've all been there...be creative when you have the time, money and energy.
When you're tight on time or just don't have an ounce of energy left, take advantage of all of those great book-to-movie adaptations!
There are some fabulous movies out there based on kids' books!
Some of our faves? Paddington, Tuck Everlasting and Mr. Poppins' Penguins!
Here are some more ideas to bring books to life after reading the last page:
Do an art project or craft that goes along with the book
Take a Hike - just read a great nature story? Venture out and enjoy the outdoors to go along with the scene from the book!
Try a recipe or new food that is connected or inspired by the book you finished!
Dress up as one of the characters and have a fun photo shoot!
Find out more about the time or place you just read about!
Visit a museum
Look up the author's website
Go to a Book Signing -check for author events in your area at bookstores, children's museums, etc..
6. Read Aloud!
Reading aloud is a great way to improve fluency, expression, confidence and it can be fun!
For some reason, as kids get older we tend to stop reading to them--myself included!
Life gets busy, there's homework, after-school activities, exhaustion, whatever the reason, it happens!
No need to feel bad about it, there's only so much time and energy to go around!
Here are a few ideas to help:
I used to read to my daughter after finishing a meal. I was always done first and it stopped me from eating too many muffins!
Have an older kid read to a younger one. It's a win-win! Sibling time and good memories are a plus and it helps with fluency! ...And it makes for great photos for the scrapbook!
Read to a pet...yes I'm serious! Pets are pretty good listeners as long as they stay put!
Kids can read to the parent when they're folding laundry or preparing dinner.
Let's not forget about books on 'tape' or CD, phone or whatever device you have. For those long car drives, that can be a great way to get caught up on some books on the TBR list!