The Best Children's Books
Reading Toolbox


I'm excited

Children's books are great, but if your child isn't excited about reading (or isn't yet doing it), you still have some work to do.

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This section of the site is devoted to promoting literacy to your child. It's about creating a sense of excitement about the whole notion of absorbing written information.

It's about conveying the mind-set that reading is simply what people do.

In other words, let's communicate to our kids that to be is to read. It's a given, not an option.

Cat in the Hat jumping out of a toolbox


How are we going to do that?

I can think of lots of ways. And if you have some more to suggest, I'm going to put a form at the bottom of this page for you to do so.

Let's start with the car. If you're like most parents, you spend a lot of time in the car with your child. Maybe you're listening to audiobooks or children's music.

Whether you are or aren't, there are other ways to promote literacy during this downtime. When I was growing up, my parents played with us a game we called Geography. It was a word game utilizing locations on the globe.

Talk about your dual benefits.


It works like this

Someone starts by naming a geographical location. Say Tennessee. Tennesee ends in E, so the next person has to name a place that starts with E, like Edmonton.

N. The next person might say New Zealand.

Of course, the subject matter doesn't have to be Geography. It could be Animals...

  • Tiger (ends in R)
  • Rabbit (ends in T)
  • Tarantula (ends in A)
  • Aardvark....

You get the idea.


LeapPad©

What if I told you that the best-selling toy of 2001 and 2002 was an educational toy? A learn-to-read toy. Would you believe me?

What if I told you it was entirely self-directed learning? That while you sit there driving the car, Billy and Cindy are sitting there teaching themselves to read?

Don't believe it? Check out LeapPad©.


Out of the car. We're home.

Even more ways now to promote spending time with books. Let's start with what's free.

When should children learn to type? When I was growing up, the answer was about 18 years. Now it's closer to 18 months.

For kids learning to read, typing is great reinforcement for what they're learning elsewhere. After all, they have to identify a letter before they can type it.

What would you think about a learn-to-type web page that entertains as it teaches? Costs nothing, has no advertising or pop-ups. And it shows lower-case letters, so kids learn to match them up with the upper-case ones on the keyboard.

Best thing about it: you don't have to be there. This is about a hundred times more educational than slapping your kid in front of some online coloring page. It's called Dance Mat Typing, and it comes to us courtesy of the British Broadcasting Company. Try it!

Encourage reading via typing

Here's something else

Kids love to color, but unless you put some thought into it, coloring doesn't reinforce literacy.

But what if your child were to re-illustrate a beloved picture book?

Sound fun? It is. Here are two ways to go about it...

1. Use the text from a beloved picture book you already own. (Follow my instructions here.)

2. Use one of my downloadable, printable, pictureless picture books, designed exclusively for this purpose!


Ready for a movie?

Remember, we're trying not just to teach kids to spend time with books, but to enjoy that time. That's the only way to produce kids who choose to read.

Kids who choose to read choose to succeed.

So how about movies that celebrate reading? That celebrate success through literacy?

Two that come to mind are Spellbound (not the Hitchcock movie) and Akeelah And The Bee.

Let me know below if you have others to recommend.


Returning to words on the page...

...how about children's magazines.

Think about it. Children's magazines convey a whole different message than children's books. Unlike a book, a magazine is current, it's written for the here and now.

If you were to buy your child a magazine subscription, you'd be conveying, "Hey, this is how you keep up with what's going on in the world." The same way you do if you yourself model magazine or newspaper-reading.

And of course, a children's magazine subscription means your child gets something in the mail every month. I think we all know that nothing promotes excitement in children more than a package with their name on it!

Games

When I was in 4th grade, my teacher gave us an exercise I loved. She wrote down a big word, and we had to write down all the words we could think of that we could make using those letters.

You can do that with your child, make a game of it. For free. Or...

You could get Scrabble©, or Boggle©, and make a family literary obsession out of it!

When a family sits down and bonds over words, reading is being reinforced in a big way. My family played these games religiously. And what happened? All three kids became writers! And readers.


There are a million ways to promote excitement about reading

None are more important than parents who are enthusiastic.

So, if you will, please use the form below to tell me some more about your parental reading secrets.


Articles from our newsletter

And here's a page with tips from visitors to this site on how they encourage their children to spend time with books.

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