Reading can be a – a wild, laugh-a-minute, occasionally rambunctious party between two covers. Here’s how to have some fun with books:
Throw a book exchange party. Invite your child’s friends over, and ask them (or their parents) to bring five books they want to trade. Then let the bargaining begin! It’s the best way to refresh your collection without spending cash. Tip: Offer gift bags for toting home “new” books.
Heard of audio books? Make your own! Read a book with your child into a phone’s voice recorder. Let your child add sound effects (using pots and pans, musical instruments, utensils, anything that makes noise) or read a couple of lines of the book. If it’s a favorite your child has memorized, let him read part or all of the book into the recorder. Let your child play the recording back and read along.
Let your child “buy” her own books. Make your own “book dollars” out of construction paper, and give them to your child for chores or good deeds at home. When your child earns ten or 15, go to the bookstore and let her spend the equivalent money on books.
Arrange a holiday book grab-bag. Try a classroom holiday gift exchange with books only. Each child brings a new book to wrap and contribute to the gift pile. Number all the gifts, and then ask children to pick numbers out of a hat for their gifts. You can add to the fun by asking all the other parents to give the teacher a children’s book as a holiday gift rather than a ceramic apple for her desk. With a new book from every child, she’ll be well stocked for the rest of the year.
Serve a meal from a book. Use food coloring to make green eggs and ham, bake a pineapple-upside down cake like the one described in Emily’s First 100 Days of School, or try to re-create parts of the Grinch’s Christmas feast.
Have a book-and-a-movie sleepover. Read a book, then see the movie on video as you cuddle in your sleeping bags together. Some ideas: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Stuart Little, Harry Potter. Serve movie snacks, of course – popcorn and chocolate (especially if you’re watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
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 and stickers. Then let your child choose a ribbon to pull through the hole as a tassel.
Write a menu. Help your child write a menu for a weekend dinner, with descriptions of each dish. Tell your child to use “describing words” (adjectives): “green, fresh” salad; “hot” chicken; “cold, sweet” ice cream. When it’s time for dinner, turn the dining room into a pretend restaurant. Let your child be the server and pass out the menus, take orders, and deliver the food. Tip: You might want to give your child some takeout menus to use as examples.
Write a book. Let your child become an author. Make a blank book out of plain white or light-colored paper. Staple the pages together, or punch holes down the left side and tie the pages together. Then let the fun begin. Help your child come up with a story, or write down the story as your child dictates. Don’t forget the “about the author” page!
Write a book of “my favorite things.” Put together ten pages (or 20, depending on your child’s age), and ask your child to think of that many favorite things. Write one thing on each page. Draw a picture to go with it, or find a picture in a catalog or magazine, cut it out, and glue it to the page.
Play dress-up and act out a book. Invite your child’s friends over to play the other characters.
Have a reading picnic. Take your favorite eats and your favorite books to the park.
Build a reading fort in the bedroom. Use broom or mop sticks, blankets, and chairs to make the fort. Crawl inside with a flashlight and lots of books, and read in the dark.
Frame a book. Make a color copy of your child’s favorite picture in a book – or favorite book cover – and frame it for the bedroom. Let your child pick the frame, or pick a plain white one and let your child decorate it. What you’ll need: Access to a color copier (try a local office supply or chain copy store), an 8.5 x 11″ plain frame with wide rim for decorating (if the book is smaller than a standard sheet of paper, cut down the color copy and put it in a smaller frame), and materials to decorate the frame, such as permanent markers, glue, ribbon, feathers, stickers – anything goes!