Your child is learning the mechanics of reading at school. At home, you can make reading fun and continue to develop your child’s love of reading. Here are some great activity ideas for your intermediate reader.
Because children learn in different ways, we’ve arranged these activities by learning style. But any child can benefit from the suggestions in all three categories.
For physical learners
Make a family newspaper. Have your child write stories about what’s happening in the family. Need some ideas? Recent birthdays, outings, and events at school all make good subjects for “articles.” Then encourage him to read the paper to others.
Discover words to grow on. Go to the library and check out a gardening book or buy one at the bookstore. Read through it to find plants, flowers, or vegetables that look interesting and then buy some seeds or plants from a local nursery and watch them grow.
Make your own bookmarks. Cut a long rectangular strip out of white cardboard, punch a hole in the top, and let your child decorate each side with markers, stickers, sparkles – anything he wants. Then choose a ribbon and tie it through the hole as a tassel.
Write a letter to a favorite author. To help your child get started, ask him a few questions: What do you like about this author’s book? How do you feel when you read these stories? Who’s your favorite character? When it’s ready, you can send the letter to the author care of the publisher. Check the title page of the book to find out who that is.
Make a dictionary. As your child comes across words he doesn’t know, have him write them in a blank book or notebook along with the meaning. This is a great way to help build vocabulary.
Give out book dollars. If you don’t want to use real money, you can draw your own. Dole out the cash for chores or other good deeds at home. When your child earns ten or 15, take a trip to the bookstore and let him spend the money.
Go to a book signing party. Popular children’s authors often make appearances at bookstores. Check local papers and bulletin boards at bookstores to find out who’s coming next.
Build a reading fort. In your child’s bedroom, drape blankets over a couple of chairs to create a tent. Invite your child to grab a book and a flashlight and climb in for story time in the dark. In the summertime you may be able to do this outside.
Serve a meal from a book. Use food coloring to make green eggs and ham, try to re-create parts of the Grinch’s Christmas feast, or make your own batch of porridge for the Three Little Bears. You can even get a basket and fill it with goodies for Little Red Riding Hood to take to Grandmother’s house.
Throw a book-related party. Read over your child’s favorite book and think about what elements would work at a party. Can you decorate his room in a jungle theme to resemble Where the Wild Things Are? Can you collect hats and host a Cat-in-the-Hat party? You’ll get your child and his friends talking about books.
Keep a diary. Let your child pick out a diary with a lock and key and encourage him to write in it every day, even if only for a few minutes.
For auditory learners
Go to story time at the library or a bookstore. Nothing beats listening to a trained storyteller. Going to the library or a bookstore to listen to a tall tale is not only a fun outing, but your child will also learn about new books and meet other children. As a bonus, you may pick up a few tips to jazz up your own read-aloud sessions.
Write a menu for a weekend dinner. Decide what you’d like to serve and then ask your child to write the foods down with descriptions. Tell your child to use describing words (also known as adjectives) such as “green, fresh” salad; “hot” chicken; “cold, sweet” ice cream. Scramble the adjectives the next night for a joke on the rest of the family!
Find a reading phone pal. Teach your child to share the joy of reading. Call a friend or relative in another city and arrange a one-on-one book club. Have the children read the same books and talk about them each week.
Listen to audio books. You can check out audio books and CDs from the library for free, buy them at a bookstore (to save money, stop by your local used bookstore) or use a digital download/streaming service. Kids love listening to someone else tell them a story, and they can follow along in their own books.
Read a recipe and cook the dish together Start with an illustrated children’s cookbook so your child can see how the dish might turn out. Read the recipe to your child while he follows along. Making the food will teach your child that books provide useful information.
Join a summer book club at the library. Most libraries arrange summer programs with lists of books for each age group and awards for completing the books. To get credit for each book your child may need to retell the story to a librarian or volunteer. Your child will share the joy of books with others – and may even win some prizes.
Set a family reading time. For 15 or 20 minutes a night, everyone in the house reads a story together. If friends or neighbors are visiting, ask them to participate. Follow the reading time with a few minutes of discussion about the book to encourage comprehension.
For visual learners
Read a story that’s out as a movie. Then go see the movie. Your child will love seeing characters he already knows from a book up on the big screen. You can rent movies too. For a fun twist, make it a sleepover party and invite other kids to read and watch the movie. Some ideas: Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Madeleine, Stuart Little, Arthur, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Winnie the Pooh.
Turn a book into art. Make a color copy of your child’s favorite picture in a book and frame it for his bedroom, or have it put on a shirt at a T-shirt shop.
Make a photo scrapbook. Have your child glue some favorite photos into an album (or on colored paper that you’ll later punch holes in and tie together) and then write captions next to each one describing what’s going on in the picture.
Subscribe to kids’ magazines. Your child will love getting his own magazines in the mail. Great ones to try at this age are Highlights for Children or Sports Illustrated for Kids.
Imagine what happens next. Have your child make up and write down a sequel to a favorite book.
Visit your child’s favorite author’s website. Some great ones to try: the home page of Jan Brett, illustrator of Hedgie’s Surprise and other stories, the Curious George site, and Suessville, a destination for Dr. Seuss lovers.
Leave notes for your child. Put them in his lunchbox or book bag every day – even if it’s just a few simple words such as “I love you.” You can also leave them around his room or next to his toothbrush.
Read comic books. Everyone knows they aren’t fine literature, but there’s no denying that kids love them! Some good ones to try: Garfield, Archie, The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes.
Illustrate a song. Write down the words to your child’s favorite song and have your child draw pictures to go with each stanza. Then read the song.
Follow along with a book project. Find an instruction or how-to book based on your child’s interests: How to draw cars, how to grow radishes, how to boil an egg. Show your child how to read for information and then put that information to use.