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Encouraging reading at home is a foundational step to instill within your child a lifelong love of reading. Providing our kids opportunities for reading in any form (whether it be a book, comics, graphic novels, newspapers magazines, recipes, etc.) is critical for establishing a solid foundation. Reading for the simple pleasure of enjoyment is so important, but if you’re looking for a few ways to extend a reading experience with your child, or students, these ideas might help.
Designate a specific number of books to read within a given time frame. This can be done individually, as a family, etc. Keep a running list of the books you’ve read, together & separately, in a shared space (refrigerator, etc.)
Be the Illustrator
Read the title of the book aloud to your child, but don’t show them the book. Encourage them to create and design a cover for the story based on the title alone! Take it one step further and encourage your child to draw what they think the characters & setting will look like, too. Read and compare!
Be the Author
Read a book to your child, but don’t show them the cover or tell them the title of the story. After reading, prompt your child to create a title for the book. Illustrate the cover of the book as a family with each member contributing to the picture.
Read, Eat, & Be Merry!
Pick a book to read as a family (picture or chapter book). Discuss the characters in the story and talk about the different foods you think they might eat. Plan a family dinner that includes these foods or foods with similar themes. Scour old cookbooks or use Pinterest to help you plan your meal if you need some inspiration.
Read, Watch, & Compare
Choose a book that’s been made into a movie. Read the book together as a family and then plan a family movie night to watch the movie version. Discuss the similarities and differences between the two and which you enjoyed better. Don’t forget the popcorn & candy!
Here are some book ideas:
Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Hugo; James & The Giant Peach; The Witches; Bridge to Terabithia; Where the Wild Things Are; Ramona & Beezus; Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief; Charlotte’s Web; Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs; A Little Princess; Charlie & the Chocolate Factory; Harry Potter series; Matilda; Mr. Popper’s Penguins; The Chronicles of Narnia; Because of Winn Dixie; Jumanji; Holes; Diary of a Wimpy Kid; The Tale of Despereaux; Captain Underpants; Hoot; The Giver; Hotel for Dogs; The Indian in the Cupboard; Judy Moody
*Young Adult Books
The Hunger Games series; The Book Thief; The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind; The Giver; The Chocolate War; Divergent Series; The Fault in Our Stars; Flipped; The Hate U Give; If I Stay; The Mighty; Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children; Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist; Paper Towns; The Outsiders; The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Rumblefish
Act out different scenes from the story and create short videos to record them. Use an app like iMovie to combine the short videos together into a video summary/movie trailer. Not interested in acting?! Draw out different scenes, photograph each picture, and use iMovie to create a trailer for the movie (don’t forget to add the music for extra effect!)
Choose a character from a book and think about the different events the character went through. Draw pictures of the events you think that character would want to remember and create a photo album to store the pictures. Get creative!
Use your smartphone to take pictures of different pages in the book (beginning/middle/end). Encourage your child to create a photo collage of those illustrations using an app like Pic Monkey or Pic Collage and number or organize them in sequence. What happened first? Next? Then? Last?
Have an extra phone lying around? Give one to your child and keep yours handy. Both you and your child pretend to have a conversation on your phones, but there’s a catch! You can only talk about the book. Change things up and have your conversation as if you were retelling the story from the point of view of two different characters from the book. If both of you were a different character, what would you say to each other? What kind of questions would you ask? What observations about your story would you make?
Use the Chatterpix app to retell a story. Snap a picture of a character from the book and upload to Chatterpix. Encourage your child to record themselves retelling the story from the character’s point of view.
I Don’t Mean To Intrude, but…
Encourage your child to imagine themselves in the story you’re reading, but not as a character already in the book. Prompt them to create a part for themselves in the book as a new character in the story. What is their role in the story? Are they part of the problem? Or the solution? Do they add humor?, etc. Write about it!
The Award Goes To…
Encourage your child to choose a book and think about different things the characters did in the story. If each of them got an award for something, what would it be? Design and create awards for each of the characters based on what they’d be awarded.
Act out different scenes from a book or act as specific characters & guess who/what they are.
Encourage your child to pretend they are a character from a book and on a mission to create a scrapbook of their favorite memories. Collect mementos, artifacts, and pictures of different happenings and events from the book and create a scrapbook to include them all. Use newspapers, magazines, ads, stickers, or even images from Google searches to create the scrapbook layouts.
Create a Collage
Write the title of the book in the middle of a blank piece of paper. Cut out different words from magazines, newspapers, etc. that can be used to tell about the story or describe the book. Consider doing this with book characters, too! Draw a picture of a book character in the middle of a piece of paper and surround the character with cut-out words and phrases to describe them.
Blueprint to Build
Encourage your child to choose a character from a book and think about what their room might look like. Design a blueprint of the room arrangement, draw and illustrate what it would look like, or use a variety of materials (playdoh, pipe cleaners, craft sticks, etc.) to build a diorama of the character’s room.
Oh Hey, Vacay!
Encourage your child to choose a character from a book and think about where they might travel for vacation. Draw a picture of their travel destination. Make a list of things they’ll pack for the trip. Create an itinerary or schedule for what they’ll do while they’re on vacation, too.
Be a Cartographer
Encourage your child to create a 2D or 3D map of the setting in a book.
Encourage your child to design a bookmark for a book that others can use as well. Decorate the bookmark with a picture of your favorite part of the book, your favorite character, a quote you loved, etc. Leave your bookmark inside the book for other family members to use.
Create a Timeline
Encourage your child to choose a character from a book and create a timeline of the character’s life from birth until present. Draw pictures of the character as a baby until present time and write about different life events that you think the character may have experienced based on what you know about them.
Write the Author
Encourage your child to write a letter to the author after reading a book. Does your child have any questions about the story? Or the illustrations? Does your child want to know something more? Or wonder about something inferred? Or simply want to say, “well done!”?! Send the letter to the publisher.
Start a Blog!
Help your child start a blog to discuss the books they’re reading. There are many free blog hosting sites that provide easy-to-use templates for getting started. Encourage your child to write posts after reading a book. Their posts could be a simple book summary, a review of the book, an analysis of the characters, etc. Invite your friends and family members to be the audience and leave comments on your child’s posts to add value and purpose to what they’re writing!
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