Fun Reading Games for Your Family, by Suzanne Holland, M.Ed.
One of the surefire ways to impart a love of books is to make the whole book reading experience fun and memorable. Well before it is ready for independent reading, a child’s brain hardwires the pleasurable experiences associated with reading. Here are some fun reading games to try at home.
Try reading an unfamiliar book, but cover the book with plain brown paper, or even a towel, so that the cover art, and title are hidden. After reading the book together, ask your child to think of some appropriate titles, and draw a jacket cover. Reveal the book and compare results! Don’t be surprised if she likes her own title better!
Make it an Oscar event! Make up some interesting categories: Best Illustrations, Coolest Kid, Scariest Villain, Funniest Animals, Silliest Plot, etc. Fill in the categories with books you have read together and award the winners!
Have a dress up day! Dress up like your favorite book character. As a teacher who annually dressed like Mother Goose, it really is fun and the kids just love it! How about Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse? Recycle those Halloween costumes (And no, Power Rangers do not count! Neither does Batman)!
Dr. Seuss books provide a wonderful jumping off point for imaginary animals and inventive words. Can you make up your own wacky, wubulous characters?
How about devoting a week to theme books? Do you have any idea how many books about bears are out there? Once you have read them all, rate them according to interest level. Or, you could pick a theme, such as bats, and alternate fiction (my all time favorite Stellaluna springs to mind) with non-fiction. Compare and contrast the information found in both.
Children love listening to stories on tape. Record yourself reading a favorite story complete with sound effects! These are great for car rides or listening when Mom or Dad isn’t there to read in person.
I remember how fun it was to play library with my sisters. We would spread all our books out on beds and stroll around “selecting” what to check out. We loved making up check out slips that we could stamp, and creating library cards. I was reminded recently that this was one of my own kids' favorite fun reading games when I found a book with the return date written on the inside cover. I guess I forgot to tell them about check out slips!
Rent a videotape or CD from the library. Sometimes “watching” a story can be almost as much fun as reading it! Rate the two versions; did the experience feel the same in each?
Act out stories (you knew I would eventually get to this). Watching a preschooler direct a grown up in the art of eating a poisoned apple is precious. My own daughter, who now acts, used to direct and play the part of the princess in Sleeping Beauty. I still remember how her little head would pop up from the pillow to give me a direction, and then, back in character, fall to the pillow!
What is the best part of all these fun reading games? From experience, I can assert it is the memories you have created with your child. Our family still laughs and reminisces about the reading games we used to play, and they all grew up to be good readers. Sure, some of it might take a little bit of planning, and of course, it is much easier to watch TV.
However, if your aim is to get kids to love books, then the investment is worth it. On those cozy winter days, or lazy, hazy summer evenings, nothing is better than curling up together on the couch, each with their own “best” book.
Did anyone say Book Club?
- Suzanne Holland, M.Ed.
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