25 Ways to Make Reading Fun for Your Child
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Would you like to make reading fun for your reluctant reader?
As a mom who is a speech/drama and English teacher, I longed for the days when I would catch my children up too late reading a good book under the covers. Unfortunately, that never happened.
My kids were too busy playing outside during the day. In fact, when they hit the sheets at night, they were out cold. No reading sneakers at my house.
There are some kids who are naturally drawn to books like I was as a child. You know, the kind of kid with a flashlight under the covers reading way past bedtime.
For those of you who have that kid, you can skip this blog post. I am talking to those of you who have kids that would rather be doing anything but reading.
This week I heard a former first-grade teacher and private reading tutor, Ashley Smith, talk with our MOPS group about reading. She gave some really wonderful ideas on how to help make reading fun for your child.
This list is a combination of her materials and mine. You are getting the wisdom of two experts for free.
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How to Make Reading Fun For Your Child
1. Showcase the books in your home. Put books in a place of prominence. You want your children to know books are important. Teach them to treat books as a treasure because they are just that-a treasure.
They are expensive! Don’t let them throw, tear, chew, or deface them.
2. Only put the holiday books out at the holidays. This will make your books special. I used to put the holiday books out in the living room as decor.
It made it easy to pick up and read them out loud when we had downtime. This will make reading fun for your child and special during the holidays.
3. Create a special reading area. Both of my kids had beanbag chairs in their room. This made it a nice place to plop down and read comfortably.
4. Read out loud to your kids. Ashley said to read out loud through elementary school or even beyond if you can get away with it. I stopped too early.
I wish I had read chapter books out loud longer. We did read devotionals out loud periodically even through high school. I guess that counts…
5. Read alone. Make time during the day for your child to read alone. Start with a small amount of time when in preschool. (Use picture books until the child can read.)
Increase the time as the child gets older. This directly works on your child’s ability to sit and concentrate. We did this all the way through high school, especially in the summer.
6. Make your own book. This is so cool! You can create a Chat book using the pictures of your own child. Ashley suggested themes such as the child’s birthday party, visiting grandparents, vacations, outings to the zoo or park, etc.
There is nothing like being the star of the show. Great gift idea, too.
7. Teach character when choosing books. I utilized a church library for books on character. The public library will have them, too. Look for ones with a problem/solution theme. These books will help prepare your child for real-life scenarios.
Pick books on sharing, picky eating, toilet training, including others, whining, friendships, kindness, love, clean-up, pouting, good/bad behavior, lying, etc.
I honed in on character issues I was seeing with my child at the time. It is a non-threatening way to reteach good behavior.
8. Use the library as a fun field trip. Go to the library weekly. We attended on the day they had story time. Many times my kids sat in my lap while we listened to the story.
When they got older, I was able to look for books while they sat quietly by themselves. You are training them to sit, listen, and have self-control while hearing a story.
9. Read over or skim the book before you get it. I found many books that were not appropriate for my kids. They had things in there I was not ready to discuss with them at their young age. Protect their innocence.
10. Get soft cloth and plastic books. These books are safe for a baby or toddler. ((Check the label to make sure.) They can take a little more wear and tear. My kids often chewed and drooled on them.
No harm at this age.
Book care can start when they are a little older. Introduce board books (small cardboard books) when they are ready to start taking care of them. They are a bit more sturdy than regular books.
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11. Read nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes teach rhythm, fun sounds, letters, vocabulary, and creativity. Make sure to read the classics. Even adults refer to these works. This is a great way to make reading fun for little ones.
12. Use picture books. I love the Carl books. There are no words in the books. You and your child can make up your own story as you go along. My kids thought they were reading when we looked at them.
13. Find ways to get books cheap. We were on a tight budget. I never bought a book full price at a bookstore. I found books at garage sales, Half Price Books, I traded with friends and family, and we received them as gifts.
14. Read books aloud in funny voices. Ok, so I realize I am a Speech/Drama teacher, but you can do it, too. Kids think this is hilarious. Even I got confused with all the voices when there were too many characters.
Don’t worry. You kids won’t care. They will be too busy laughing at you and the story.
15. Put books back in the bookcase. You can teach clean up skills by always putting the books back when reading time is over. This will help keep your books from getting torn up. And it reinforces how special they are to the family.
16. Cut out the iPad. Ashley said it is causing not only reading problems but behavior problems. When she goes into homes to tutor, one of the things she sees on a consistent basis is that the child who has reading issues is on the iPad way too much.
The iPad is a babysitter. Use it sparingly.
In fact, if you take it away and your child throws a tantrum, he/she is addicted. She said to slowly cut back the time and either wean your child off of it or only use it for a short period during the day.
The educational games DO NOT help. Most of all, she said not to use the iPad as a reward. I know, deep sigh.
17. Snuggle when you read. My kids were always in my lap snuggled up to me, or we were lying in bed together reading. (Unless we were at the dinner table.)
You want to create a warm and loving environment. Make it a fun time to look forward to every night.
Related: How to Get to Your Child’s Heart
18. Encourage your child’s gifts. Know your child well enough to pick out books he/she is into at that time. My son was into diggers, construction, tools, and dozers for a very long time. I found every book (and videotape) on the subject.
19. Capitalize on dead time. You can read at mealtimes, before naps, carpool, or bedtime. Mix it up. My kids had board books and those cloth books with them in the car when they were little.
2o. Trade out your books. Keep some of your books up on a shelf where your kids cannot reach them. Trade out your books when you see your kids are getting tired of the ones they have. This way the books will feel new.
21. Save special books. I have about 15-20 special books I have saved to pass down to my grandchildren. I will probably keep them at my house for them to read when they come.
Some of the books are ones I had when I was a child. They are fragile and very special to me. I told you I was a book freak.
22. Get educational books. Make sure your home library includes books on colors, counting, shapes, and letters. You want your child to be working on this as early as possible. This will help them to be school-ready.
23. Trace with their fingers. When you are reading letters and numbers, have your preschooler trace them with his/her finger. Use as many senses as possible when reading. When writing or tracing, start letters and numbers from the top.
Don’t let them trace starting at the bottom of the letter. You will develop a bad writing habit that will have to be broken later.
24. Experience what you read. If you are going or just went to see airplanes on vacation then check out books about airplanes. If you are going to the zoo, pick out books about animals you will see at the zoo.
Read about different cultures and then eat their type of food afterward. Make your books come alive in real life.
25. Create your own stories. My kids loved it when we made up stories that included them. My husband was especially good at making the funniest bedtime stories.
He once made up a story about Indians scalping my father-in-law who is bald. The next time my son saw his grandfather he asked him about it. My father-in-law was hysterical. We still laugh about that today.
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Long-Term Effects of Reading
Several things happened when my kids went to college and beyond:
1. Both of my kids called and thanked me for developing a love for reading. They would not have made it through their college programs without having a strong reading background. (One child is still in college.)
Books are the key to unlocking every other subject your child will study. It is important you develop a strong reader so he/she can progress academically.
2. Both of my kids love to read and have developed good reading habits. Actually, my son might like fishing more than reading, but he LOVES to read about fishing.
3. My son, who loved diggers, dozers, tools, and construction…His current job is in real estate. This is how he makes his living full-time. I saw his gifts early on and found books and videos that reinforced his passion. It paid off in dividends.
Keeping it Real
Remember, both of my kids wanted to be outside. They didn’t love reading when they were younger. I had to learn how to make reading fun. This was a struggle in my house.
There were a couple of times I grounded them for not doing their school-assigned reading. It was hard to make that reading fun.
Don’t let your kids talk you out of reading alone. It is a skill that needs to be learned in order to move on to higher level thinking. They will try to talk you into reading aloud to them only. (I think that is why I eventually stopped reading aloud to them. ) This is a hard balance.
I had to push my kids to read alone. It was a struggle!
My children’s love of books grew as they matured. Be patient. It takes time. Be consistent and create good family habits. You may not get a thank you until college. That is okay.
They really do like the time you spend with them even if they don’t say it. Miss one bedtime story and you will hear complaints.
*You can also find Ashley Smith on Facebook. She works in Dallas, Texas. I was highly impressed with her knowledge and skills as a teacher and reading expert. Here is her email if you want to contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What things do you do to make reading fun?
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