15 Jun 25 Fun Ways to Encourage Reading That Do Not Involve Books
What do you do if your child hates to read or just won’t sit still long enough for a story? You encourage her to read in small bites, the way everyone reads throughout a normal day. Whether you have a beginning reader or a 12-year-old who still stumbles over words, you can use these ideas to help your child improve reading skills.
- Cook together, and let your child give you directions by reading the recipe.
- Give your child a map when you go on vacation. Let him point out places of interest, and ask for his help in navigating.
- Paint a section of the kitchen or your child’s bedroom with chalkboard paint. Leave messages and encourage your child to write on the walls (with chalk, of course).
- Prompt your child to read the menu at restaurants to tell you what he wants to eat.
- Make something together that requires following directions.
- Pass notes: Put messages in your child’s lunchbox, or fold the message into a paper airplane and toss it to her across the room. Make the notes fun and inquisitive (“What kind of snack do you want?”) rather than parental edicts (“Go feed the cat.”).
- Play board games that require reading: Apples to Apples Kids, Monopoly Jr., Clue Jr.
- Play games that require matching: Snap, Blink, Memory, Go Fish.
- Collect something: shells, feathers, leaves, insects, or whatever your child loves. Use a reference book to identify each new item. Offer to help build a display for a collection.
- Whenever your child shows interest in a topic, find books or magazines to help her explore her interest.
- Keep your children supplied with journals, spiral notebooks, and notepads.
- Every now and then, put short notes in your child’s lunchbox.
- Ask your child to write your shopping list. Help with spelling, when needed.
- Encourage your child to write to a long-distance friend or cousin, either by postal or email.
- Kids love to type. Let them use a computer word processor to type whatever they want – stories, poems, or letters. Let them type pure nonsense if they want. Set up a file where they can store what they want to keep.
- If the writing process is too intimidating, offer to type (or write) a story as your child dictates.
- Encourage your kids to look at the newspaper. Let them cut out items of interest.
- Let your kids use the Internet (with guidance and supervision) to explore their hobbies and interests.
- Write words on sticky note paper (or use tape) and let beginning readers label things in the house: refrigerator, computer, television, stairs, closet, etc.
- Play word games on long trips. Young children can play the alphabet game, where they search for the ABC’s, in order, on billboards and any signs along the road. Older readers love mad libs, which you can buy pre-printed in tablet form at a dollar store. Mad libs are stories with blanks. The person who fills in the blanks asks the other players (without any hint of the story’s plot) for nouns, verbs, and adjectives for the appropriate spaces, and then reads the completed story out loud.
- Don’t dumb down your conversation! Improve their vocabulary by tossing a long word in every now and then when you talk to your kids.
- Give your kids word puzzle books, like word search or crossword puzzles.
- Give the older child who loves to doodle a how-to book on lettering or calligraphy, along with the needed pens and tools.
- Give calendars to your kids every year for Christmas. Encourage them to record birthdays, school events, and other activities in the right spaces.
- Scrapbooks and scrapbook supplies are great gifts for the child who loves crafts. Suggest your child use it to document a vacation, sports season, or any other personal topic.
Learning to read can be challenging, and it sometimes takes years of practice to be good at it. The best way is to read books, and lots of them. While you work on teaching your child a love for reading, do everything you can to get words in her face. By making reading a part of everyday life, and taking advantage of companion skills (like writing, matching, and sorting), you can help your child gain the confidence she needs to become a fluent reader. And who knows, she may eventually crack open a book, just for fun.