Maddy loves books. She enjoys turning the pages and pointing at the colorful images. But she can't read the words yet and she's too squirmy to sit though an entire reading. She's only 14 months old, but I'm already pretty well equipped with various resources to encourage reading when she's ready. But whether you're children are in that stage of "Yay books are fun!" or "Ugh do I have to read?" there are great websites and bloggers who have found ways to sneak in reading to your day. Kind of like the way you can cook brownies with zucchini!
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to join a conference call with Judy Harris, the CEO of Hooked-on-Phonics and other reading/parent bloggers. We talked about ways to encourage reading through the summer in addition to the opportunities for reading that we have all around us.
In attendance for the "Virtual Coffee" were some very inspirational and creative bloggers:
- How many books can you read? Make a book paper chain with your kids where each chain represents a book they promise to read. From 5 to 30, it doesn't matter how many they choose. It's all about the enthusiasm to read!
- Aisles and aisles of reading! Make easy to read shopping lists of food for when you shop with the kids. Hand each child a list with words and pictures and let them find the items.
- Read rules and instructions before you play a game or enter an amusement park or museum. You get the reading practice but also an easy-out to remind your child "Sorry, those are the rules!"
- Reading can be fun and games...and crafts! Create a craft activity using a new or favorite book as inspiration. But if you're at a loss, check out Allie's blog for creative and unique ideas.
- Boys vs Girls? Sometimes boys need a little encouragement from the men in their lives. The Book Dads provide a resource for dads, uncles, grandfathers and all parents.
- Star power: create videos of your kids reading to send to grandparents. You get reading, speaking and concentration practice all-in-one!
- B-I-N-G-O: Planning a trip or looking for car activities? Make BINGO sheets with letters and play I-Spy looking for object-letter associations.
- Write the alphabet out on paper and take your kids outside for a letter scavenger hunt.
Since my educational background is in middle school, here are some ideas to encourage older kids to read:
- Drop everything and read...as a family. Let's face it, some kids won't do something if you don't either. Pick a time of night (right after dinner is always best) where everyone stops what they are doing to read for a short time. Set a minimum time limit, like 15-minutes, and if you want to read more than that, great!
- Teen recommendations: find websites with book reviews written by kids and let your child pick from that site. A great place to start is Flamingnet, started in 2002 when the publisher was in 5th grade.
- Sometimes, your teen will even want your advice or want to know your opinion. Why not read the same book and then compare notes when you're finished?
- If it's not going to be book, try a magazine. Surprise them with a subscription to a special interest mag or let them pick one from your local B&N or Borders. Just try NOT to DISCOURAGE magazine reading. It's words and content that your child is READING. Done.