Published on August 26th, 2014 | by Bright Kids Books0
The 15 best ways to make reading fun
One of the best ways for kids to enjoy reading is for parents to actively make reading fun. With a little bit of effort, and a lot of enthusiasm, you’ll be well on your way to creating an enjoyable reading experience for both you and your children.
However, let’s not pretend we’re always full of energy, or that our kids sit happily every time a book is opened. It’s tough. And it can sometimes be a drag. And just like all things that are worth doing, it’s not always easy. That’s why it’s important that you have some time tested strategies available to you.
So without further ado, here’s The 15 best ways to make reading fun
1. Embrace your inner actor
Let yourself go when you are reading out loud – use lots of expression, in your voice and in your face and body too. Try some sound effects – they will either love it or tell you to calm down. But mostly they’ll love it. Mix it up by using different voices for different characters. You could even go for costumes – an eye patch when reading a pirate story perhaps. Take it further by acting out your child’s favorite stories together. And remember, it’s almost impossible to be too enthusiastic when reading aloud to kids. And yes, it takes effort and it might take you out of your comfort zone… these are all good things too. Imagine if in 30 years time one of your child’s fondest memories was reading stories together?
2. Encourage creativity and imagination
When reading familiar stories, leave gaps for them to fill. Your child will delight in knowing what comes next – and you may be amazed by the incredible rote memory of your kids. Or, make up silly versions of familiar stories yourself. Change the lion into a mouse, or swap the princess for a worm and listen to the laughter fly. If you’re really looking for laughs, change the main character’s name to ‘bum’ or ‘bottom’. Genius!
Or better yet, work together to create silly versions of familiar books. You’ll be surprised at how creative you both are – and cooperating on this activity is a real eye opener. And also one of our favorite ways to make reading fun.
3. Encourage your kids to choose their own books at the library (or bookstore)
Help choose books for your kids, but also allow them to choose their own books. Leave judgment at home, because the aesthetic appreciation many adults have for books doesn’t come as naturally to young children.
* We know you know this already.
Your kids may only be into fiction. They may just want to read about a particular animal (or dinosaurs, or princesses, or diggers). Not judging what your kids are reading means letting them develop the love of reading for themselves.
This also develops their independence and gives very clear encouragement to read what they’re interested in. The important thing is to read around their interests. And if you’re not keen on the choices, remember this quote from George Harrison: ‘This too shall pass’.
4. Set a great example
You’re a reader too, so make time for some reading of your own! We all know how much children love to repeat the things adults say and do – and if your kids see that you’re interested in your own book, they’ll soon see reading as a natural (and enjoyable) way to spend time.
Make sure you share what you love about books and why you love certain books with your children. This will not only make them feel more grown up, but help them develop their own sense of what to look for in books. Best of all, this is one of the great reading activities that allows you to express your self – and make reading fun for you too.
5. Use your car, cycle and walk time to help develop reading skills
The words you see all around you on buildings and street signs can become a beneficial reading activity that you incorporate into your daily life. When you drive by a restaurant or store, call out the letters. When you roll up to a stop sign, say “Stop! S-T-O-P spells stop.” Efforts like this help your kids make the connection between letters, sounds, reading and the world around them. Not to mention it makes trips that little bit more interesting.
6. Lighten Up
Help your kids realize that reading pertains to more than just books. Encourage them to get their hands on everything they can, including comics, game directions, cereal boxes, maps and kid-friendly websites.
Just as you’d happily curl up with a favorite magazine, there are publications geared toward kids as well. Time for Kids and Weekly Reader are great magazines to keep your children in tune with the outside world.
Sometimes boys are not as interested in reading as girls can be. Young boys may find narratives unengaging, and most of the books available for younger kids are just that. However, this is no excuse to let your sons off the hook. For a lot of boys, Sports Illustrated or a paleontology or gaming magazine might be the best option. Remember, it doesn’t matter what they read as long as they read.
Another variation on this theme is to look out for topical stories – at Christmas or Easter time, or about the seaside in the summer, the snow in winter or places you have been or are going. This brings books into your child’s real world. A perfect way to make reading fun.
7. Make reading an adventure of its own
To kids of all ages, there’s nothing like a good adventure. So turn a trip to your library or local bookstore into an anticipated event, and you never know, your little ones might even beat you to the car. At least theoretically this is possible!
Help your kids sign up for a library card. Not only will they feel more grown up, but they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and possession over their reading abilities. If, early on, you can instill in your children the value of books, they’ll carry it with them for years to come. One of the best ways to make reading fun.
8. Positive reinforcement
Try some positive reinforcement to kick-start the reading process. While some kids may be motivated by a sticker on a chart, others may need the promise of a more tangible prize, like a trip to the zoo to catch their attention. However, it’s best not to offer TV or screen time as a reward. When we offer TV as a reward for reading, we show them that reading is what you do to get something really valuable, like watch TV. What we really want to communicate is that reading is its own reward.
9. Encourage your kids to write
Did you know that reading and writing go hand in hand at the early stages of literacy? With this in mind, it’s important to encourage your children to write. Whether it’s writing their name, about a recent trip, or thank you cards for birthday presents… encouraging your kids to write helps develop their reading – and also their independence.
Encouraging children to write about topics they’re interested in is more productive than asking them to journal about their favorite memory. Whatever works, is a good course of action. The more fun, the better.
10. Keep Books within easy reach & TV remote out of reach
Make sure that kids’ books are easy to access within your home. By making kids’ books more available than the TV remote, you’ll naturally encourage them to pick up a book rather than turn on the TV.
One great reading encouragement strategy is to surround your kids with reading material that most interests them. For example, if your kids have a fascination with dinosaurs, let them read, or at least pretend to read, their favorite prehistoric tales. In short, make reading fun.
11. Listen to your kids read out loud
Ask your kids to read aloud regularly. That way, you can track their progress and stay aware of any difficulties they might be having.
Teaching your kids to read is a bit like teaching them to ride a bike. It begins with you by their side. Start by picking a text that’s just a little too difficult for your kids to read on their own. Cuddle up with them and read the book aloud together. Help them sound out any unfamiliar words. Think of this as riding the bike with training wheels. Your child begins to feel what it’s like to read for themselves, they hear themselves reading the book, and they have the full support of their parent with them – which is really affirming.
Soon enough, your kids will begin to feel comfortable reading passages on their own. Let go of the metaphorical bike and encourage them to read on their own. It’s much more fun for your child learning to read at their own pace.
12. The gift that keeps on giving
For birthdays, and holidays, give your children books, just as you would a toy, game or sporting apparel. Everything is more fun and exciting dressed in wrapping paper and a bow.
From a parenting perspective, it’s as important to show children the importance of reading as it is to tell them. One way to show them is by making a book into a gift, which they already know is something of great value.
And the more enthusiasm you show about the book, the more they’ll appreciate the gift they’ve received. Rediscover the stories you loved as a child. Write a personal note on the inside cover so your children understand how much this book means to you. If you cherish it, they probably will too. Presents make reading fun.
13. Slow and steady wins the race
All children learn to read at a different pace. Instead of asking your little ones to finish a certain number of pages, set aside a chunk of time during which they should read. If it’s a race to the finish, nobody wins.
If you’ve ever been around early readers, you’ve probably noticed that many of them love to “read” their favorite books over and over again – essentially reciting the stories from memory. Contrary to what you may think, this is actually an important early step in the reading process. Children learn sounds before they learn the letters that represent those sounds.
So while it’s counterintuitive to us, as adults, because we associate the letter with the sound… children learn that in the reverse order. You’ll know for sure they’re beginning to understand and learn words when they read the same or similar words in a different context. They’re beginning to understand if they can take those skills and transfer them to a different book that they haven’t read before.
14. Be consistent
So while ‘consistent’ and ‘fun’ are not always synonymous, in this particular case, a consistent reading time increases expectation – leading to greater enjoyment. By taking the time to ensure distractions are minimised, your effort is exceptional and you’re focused on the ‘here and now’ the reading time will be enjoyable and fun for each of you. A story before bedtime becomes one of your child’s most anticipated times of the day. A surefire way to make reading fun.
And one more suggestion to make reading fun.
15. Choose books that you like too!
While this might contradict the ‘read anything’ mantra slightly, it’s vitally important that the books you read to your children are often ones you also look forward to reading too. Personally, I most enjoy reading the books to my toddler that we both like.
This is especially important for younger children. As you’ll no doubt be reading the same book over and over, it’s crucial that your enthusiasm and attitude is consistently upbeat. This will help make reading time more fun for you too – and your children will feed off your authentic enthusiasm.