50 Ways to Make Reading Fun for Children
Reading is an essential part of early childhood education and an important foundation for all other subject areas. But how do you make reading fun? Here are 50 ideas and tips to get you started.
Form Habits When They are Young
- Start Early - You can start reading to your little one as soon as he or she is born.
- Read Often - Don’t save reading just for bedtime. Make reading a part of your routine throughout the day.
- Keep Books in Sight - Carry books with you! Keep selections in the car, in the diaper bag and the most used rooms of your home. Display books at the child’s height in bedrooms and on ledges in common spaces.
- Gather Together for Library Story Time - Let your child hear other adults read stories out loud. Many libraries offer age-appropriate storytimes and free literacy events.
- Give Books as Gifts - Place as much value on books as you place on toys. Teach your child to take care of them and appreciate all books have to offer.
- Lead by Example - Children will follow the behavior they see, so be sure you model the pleasure of reading.
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Ways to Improve Your Storytelling
- Discuss the Author and Illustrator - Reading the author name, illustrator name and title are perfect ways to start your story as you talk to your child about those who write and illustrate the elements of the book.
- Change Your Voice - Make reading exciting by changing your voice for each character or making sound effects.
- Talk About the Pictures - Pictures can tell a large part of a story. Ask your child to tell you what is happening in the story based on the pictures or have them make up their own story based upon the images.
- Use Movement - Use your hands and arms (even your feet!) to bring the stories to life.
- Point to the Words - Help children follow along and begin to learn to read by pointing to each word as you go. If you think they can sound out a word or guess a letter, invite them to do so.
- Ask Questions - As you are reading, ask questions like “What do you think will happen next?” and “How do you think the character is feeling?”
- Mix-Up Genres and Types of Books - Give your child more exposure to the world of books by offering both fiction and non-fiction genres.
- Allow Personalities to Shine Through - Every child learns at their own pace, so don’t pressure your child to be at a certain level or respond a certain way to a story. Instead, choose to allow the child to set the pace and follow his or her lead. Constant reading exposure and a patient teacher are the best way for kids to pick up a love of reading.
Additional Tips to Help
- Do a Project - Make a craft or complete a cooking project based on the story that you read.
- Let Your Child Choose the Book - Empower and excite your child by letting them choose what story you read to them.
- Act Out the Story - Bring the story to life by acting it out and role-playing together as a group.
- Keep it Light - Reading should be fun, so never make it a part of punishment or discipline.
- Personalize Books - Children will love reading a book about themselves. Order one online or make one of your very own! Include names of their neighbors and friends in the storyline.
- Note Areas of Interest - Does your little one love dinosaurs? Make sure you have a lot of dinosaur books on hand.
- Read to Your Pets - As children grow and expand their reading skills ask them to read books to you and your pet fish, hamster, dog or cat. Choose an animal that will hold still long enough for a story and always be present to supervise.
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Challenge Their Literacy Skills
- Read Books at Various Levels - Picture books, books with a few words and chapter books are all good books to expose children to as they’re ready.
- Offer a Variety of Reading Material - Don’t limit your reading to books. Magazines, newspapers and even cereal boxes make for wonderful reading opportunities.
- Join Summer Reading Contests - Every summer, make a habit of reading a few more books than usual. This sets your child up to learn to use their extra time to read and to learn. Many libraries have summer reading contests and lists available for free.
- Carve Out Time for Reading - Balance screen time with reading time, daily. Consider allowing children to read on an electronic device (preferably without access to games or other distractions) once in a while to show them how to value all types of reading.
- Use Their Imagination - When you’re together at the dinner table or in the car, start a story of your own and challenge them to add to it with their creativity.
- Follow Up - Build reading comprehension and critical thinking skills by asking follow up questions about the stories you read together. For older children ask them to write a paragraph about the story and explain what they learned.
Create a Reading-Friendly Home
- Keep a Book Basket in Every Room - Make books accessible by keeping a basket of age-appropriate books in every room of your home.
- Do a Reading Night - Substitute movie night or game night for reading night and have the whole family sit together in the family room and read. Start with 15 minutes and work your way up as the children get older.
- Create a Reading Nook - Whether it’s as simple as a chair and a lamp or something with elaborate décor, make an inviting space for reading in your home.
- Add A-Z Magnets - Teach children how to make words and read them out loud by using magnetic letters on the fridge.
- Use Sight Words - Place sight words around the house to keep reading and learning as a part of your everyday routine.
Tips for Classroom Reading
- Create a Reading Area - Designatee a reading area with comfy seating and an easily accessible book display in the classroom.
- Use Themed Books - Keep books in tune with your classroom by rotating books that relate to whatever your current classroom theme may be. For example, are you learning about Thanksgiving? Then make sure you have a lot of Thanksgiving books on hand.
- Start a Book Chart - Keep up with how many books your class reads with a visual book chart and stickers.
- Give Rewards - Reward reading a certain number of books with a class party or a special treat.
- Display Books - Make books a part of the classroom décor.
- Dress Up - Wear a wizard hat to read Halloween stories or dress up as a nursery rhyme when reading Mother Goose.
- Create a Listening Center - Designate a listening center where students can listen to audiobooks and follow along.
- Group Books by Level - Group books by beginning, intermediate and advanced levels so students can find books easy for them to read.
- Start a Classroom Library - Host a classroom library each week and let students choose books to borrow and read at home.
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Creative Reading Experiences
- Connect to Real-Life Events - Did you just visit the zoo? Read a story about the zoo, and then ask your child how your trip was similar or different from the trip described in the book. Read a book about camping and go camping or read a book about flying a kite and fly a kite. Make your story come to life with real-life experiences.
- Try Apps - Keep reading apps on your phone to use with your kids for the times you can’t find a physical book. Some libraries offer eBook, audiobook and on-demand video subscriptions at no cost — just download the specific apps and log in with your library card number.
- Use Environmental Print - Reading doesn’t just have to come from books. Read everything you see while you are out: stop signs, store signs, road letters.
- Read Under the Covers - Use a flashlight to read under the sheets in the child’s bed as you cuddle. For older kids, make nighttime reading a spooky experience. For kids of all ages, create shadows on the wall and see who can make the most realistic looking animal with their hands.
- Make it a Campout - Make reading a special event by reading in a tent! The tent doesn’t have to be at an outdoor campsite to be fun. Pitch a tent in your living room or the child’s bedroom and fill it with blankets and books. Create a magical reading experience and choose books with an outdoorsy or a camping theme.
- Library Adventures - Picking out books can be just as fun as reading them! Take your child to the library and let them choose the books they would like to bring home.
- Find Letters - Look for letters as you drive in the car. Ask your child if they can find anything outside that starts with the “sss” sound. Relating sounds and letters to words is an important part of literacy, especially for younger children.
- Play Letter Walk - This game works best in a city area with lots of signs. Pick a letter and walk around to find it on signs, buildings and cars. Example: Count how many “O”s you can find around you.
- Take your Child to a Bookstore - Let them browse the children’s section. Then have them help you pick out a grown-up book.
Now that you know some ways to make reading exciting, which tips will you use to make reading fun for your child?
Julia Hembree is a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer who thrives on chocolate, Starbucks and toddler kisses.