Does your family love to read? I do! Each day I'm thankful for the gift of reading. I read to learn, to explore new worlds, and to enjoy myself. When I imagine a life without reading, all the color seems to drain out of my day.
Sometimes it takes effort on our part to get kids excited about reading. That's not too surprising when there are so many other distractions nowadays. However, one way to help kids enjoy and relate to what they read is to link reading to other activities. For some children, crafts will grab their interest. For others, it needs to be something even more physical, perhaps putting on a play or organizing a book stall.
Here are some ideas to help your kids connect books to their everyday lives, and celebrate reading:
- Organize a book chat group. Discuss: What makes us like a book? Ask each person to write down her/his favorite book and s/he likes it. Do all the books have something in common? Kids can share their favorites and make suggestions to their friends.
- Record children explaining what reading means to them. Follow up a trip to the movies to see something like Fantastic Mr. Fox with finding the Roald Dahl book the movie was based on and reading it together. Discuss how the versions were different and which you liked best. How many book/movie combinations can you find?
- Have a teddy bears picnic in the park and read some books to the bear friends. Honey sandwiches and fairy cakes might be a good start to the picnic!
- Revisit a selection of books you and your kids have enjoyed. Sometimes kids just need to re-find old book friends to fall in love with a book all over again.
- Write to your favorite authors and let them know how much you enjoy their books. Don't be disappointed if they don't have time to write back -- it takes ages to write a really good book.
- Choose a book and act it out. Or choose just one scene and make a still picture of it with a group of friends, using their bodies as the people and props from that scene.
- Pretend to be one book character and make up some more stories for him/her to star in.
- Create a comic about a favorite book character or book world.
- Go through your books to see whether some books can go to younger kids. Recycling is good for the environment, it's a way of helping others, and it makes space for new books -- win/win/win!
- Use YouTube to find some videos related to great children's books, then track down the ones kids enjoy at the library or bookstore.
- How many stories from across the world do you/your kids know? Can you find some in books?
- Ask your children to make their own picture books for a younger child. Have them draw the pictures and write the story that is in their heart, and that they think someone younger might enjoy. Will they give it the younger child to keep, or read it to them?
- Encourage kids to dress up as a character from a story you've read. Get together with some friends and create a new story starring everyone! Or dress some toys as book characters. Can kids make up a puppet play for them?
- Organize a book exchange with your friends or at your church/school.
- Write a 75-word review of your favorite book, while your kids do the same with theirs. Share them. Or find a book you both love and write a 75-word review together.
Helping our children connect with books is not just a great way to celebrate, it reminds them and ourselves how fortunate we are to have the gift of reading!