Getting your kids to read regularly is not always an easy thing to do.  While we know that daily reading plays a huge role in helping our children improve their reading skills, with all the districations of screens, video games, and social media, it’s not always easy to get them to close the ipad and open a book! 

While I am not a huge promoter of rewarding kids for reading (reading IS the reward!) there are  things we can do to make reading fun.  With a little creativity and imagination, you can perhaps entice them away from their screens and into a good book!  

Here are a few suggestions to make reading fun for kids: 

Engaging Read-Alouds

We all know that reading aloud to your child is one of the best ways to help your child develop a lifelong love of reading.  A traditional read–aloud is where a child sits quietly as a story is being read; an interactive read–aloud invites conversation from cover to cover and makes reading together more engaging and interesting.  

When you read with your child, try making the read aloud more fun by…

  • Changing locations.  Read in different places: on the floor, in a blanket fort, or outside under a tree! 
  • Making a connection.  Pause and tell your child a connection you are making to the story:  “Oh, this part reminds me of the time when….” 
  • Acting out the story.  Use different voices or accents for each character or act out parts of the story.  Use funny voices, facial expressions, throw your arms into the air, or whatever other gestures that fit the story! 

Visit the Library

I have such fond memories of going to the local library with my mum when I was little.  Having my own library card and getting to choose my OWN BOOKS as a child gave me such a sense of independence.  Weekly visits to the library with your children helps them learn independence, responsibility, not to mention introduces them to all the resources available to them.  There are usually fun weekly events and activities for children as well.  After all, according to Albert Einstein, “the only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.”

Let Them Choose

Let your child choose what books they want to read. Giving children a choice helps them feel more independent and likely more excited to sit down with the book they have chosen.  Help your child choose books that are related to his or her interests—whether it’s unicorns, aliens, dinosaurs, or soccer.  

Encourage Different Types of Books

Reading doesn’t always have to mean reading a book.  There are a wide range and purposes for reading you can engage your child in.  Letters, magazines, comics, game instructions, recipe books, “how to” books are all forms of reading your child can engage with.  Why not read a recipe book together and have your child choose a favorite meal to cook with you?  Or buy a new game and have your child try to read the instructions and teach you how to play?  

Wordless Picture Books

I am a huge fan of wordless picture books.  Without text, the reader is invited to interpret the story through a sequence of detailed illustrations.  They’re great for reluctant readers who can enjoy a book and have a positive literary experience without the stress of reading words. They’re also great for reading together — you can notice things, point to things, and take turns telling the story.  

Reading Hour

Schedule a specific time in your day for reading.  Alternate between reading a book together and reading by yourselves.  On “by yourself” days, be sure to read your own book in front of your child.  Seeing is believing and when children see their parents enjoying reading, they are more likely to develop good reading habits.

Start a series

Book series are a great way to keep your child’s interest in reading high and eliminate the problem of figuring out what to read next.  There are dozens of series targeting emergent, beginning, and developing readers.  From fantasy, to Sci-Fi, to graphic novel, to mystery- there is a series for every interest!  Another option is reading multiple, non-series books written by the same author.  

Neighbourhood Book Swap 

We all have books in our home that we no longer want to keep.  Why not encourage your children to organize a “Book Swap”?   Set up a “Book Swap” table outside and invite neighbours to bring their gently used, unwanted books.  Make a sign “Give a Book – Take a Book”!  Your kids will enjoy getting new books to read and it’s a great way to build community! 

Book Nooks 

Having a special space and place in your home is a great way to get them excited about reading.  There are many ideas on the internet of how to set up a special “book nook” in your home.  Invite your children to help create the space. (Ikea has indoor tents that work perfectly for this!) Add pillows, stuffies, and blankets and even some twinkly lights for nighttime reading!  

Book Boats 

If you have little ones, book boats are a fun way to give your kids a special place to read.  Take a clean large plastic storage tub with a lid.  Cut the lid in half and secure it to one half of the tub.  Your child can then sit inside the other end of the tub and rest their book on the half lid.  The lid can also be used for resting special “boat snacks” on!  If you don’t have a tub with a lid, a laundry basket filled with cushions can work just as well.  For added fun, sporadically drag the boat (child inside) around the room while they read! 

Puppet Shows

There’s nothing like an old-fashioned puppet show to help entertain children!  Why not take a favorite picture book or fairy tale and create a puppet show?  Use a familiar story and give kids “characters” to play. Old socks work perfectly for puppets – just glue on some googly eyes and some wool hair and – voila!    Be sure to join in the fun and model your best “character voices”!  

To create your puppet show “stage”, set up two chairs, back to back, a few feet apart. Drape a large blanket over.  Kids can hide behind the curtain and hold their sock puppet above the blanket.  Invite other family members or neighbors to watch!  

Audio Books

Audio books are great alternatives to help make reading more enjoyable and particularly helpful for children who might be frustrated when reading.  Digital reading platforms, such as Simbi, provide a wide variety of books for all ages, levels, and interests that readers can follow along to while they listen. 

Simbi is free to try and offers readers of every age, level, and interest access to an amazing online library of engaging books and three different ways to read. Choose from reading along, narrating, or reading silently.  

Final Thoughts

While some children have a natural love for reading, others don’t; some find it boring, others find it difficult.  But ALL readers, including reluctant ones, deserve positive literary experiences at home.   With just a little time and imagination, you can bring a little book joy into your home so that both your book worm and your reluctant reader can develop a love of reading while having fun with books.

About the Author Adrienne Gear

Adrienne is a teacher, author and speaker from Vancouver, BC She has over 25 years of elementary teaching experience and has written seven professional books for elementary teachers in the area of reading, writing, and thinking. Adrienne is also a Literacy and Learning advisor with the Simbi Read for Good platform. She is a well-sought after speaker and speaks to educators across the country and around the world. She is passionate about reading, children’s literature, and all things west coast. Adrienne currently lives in Kelowna, BC with her husband and their dog.

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