You’ve found a cozy place to cuddle up with your child next to a small stack of books. Your goal is to make reading fun and engaging.
You grab the first one, open its pages and begin reading. A new adventure has now begun!
We all know that reading to your child is wildly beneficial, but reading is so much more than just reciting the words on the page and then turning it. Reading to your child, it turns out, can be quite the workout!
So how do we enrich the reading experience for our child? How do we make reading fun?
Look at the Book’s Cover
Discuss the cover of the book by looking at its pictures. Ask your child what they see or notice.
- What do you think this book will be about?
- Who do you think is the main character?
- What’s something interesting you see on the cover?
This will get them thinking about the story before it even starts, which builds great predicting and inferencing skills.
Fun note: always introduce the book’s title and its author and/or illustrator! The author sometimes gets forgotten in the excitement of the book’s title and cover. To boot, when a child recognizes an author, he or she will develop the skill of knowing what types of books he or she likes and identifying favorite authors.
Asking questions while reading covers a range of good reading habits. When you ask your child a question, you’re helping them make predictions, make connections, and make inferences.
In short, you’re teaching and showing them how to become true readers.
Don’t put pressure on yourself—remember to make reading fun and keep the questions simple. Ask them to predict by saying, “What do you think will happen on the next page?”
Encourage them to make connections by stating, “The main character looks sad. Have you ever felt that way?”
Toss them an inference question by asking, “What time do you think it is in this picture?” Or, “It looks a bit cloudy in this illustration; what do you think might happen?”
Keep the Conversation Open
Discuss the book’s illustrations and words before moving on by simply just talking to your child about what’s happening.
Even the most simple observations are beneficial.
“The leaves on the trees are red in this illustration. I think it might be fall.” “Oh no, it looks like the bear dropped his ice cream on the ground. I bet he’s feeling disappointed. Have you ever felt that way?”
Analyzing the text and illustrations not only models good reading behavior for them, but also opens up the opportunity for more discussion between you and your child.
They’re analyzing the text here–and they don’t even realize it!
Make Reading Fun with Expression
We’ve all been there—stuck in a class where the teacher talks in constant monotone. If it’s hard for you to learn under those conditions, it’s hard for kids.
Remember to read with expression and passion. Don’t be afraid to act out some of the pages, or take turns being characters in the book. Make reading fun!
Reading with expression makes reading more fun and more engaging for your child. To boot, they’ll in turn learn how to read with expression themselves.
This will help later with fluency and comprehension as they learn to read themselves.
Talk about New Words
Kids are smart, and they catch on quick. They can learn new words and are, in fact, thirsty to retain them. Discuss words that may be new to them and use them in sentences so they understand the context.
Bonus activity? Create a word wall that consists of new words you come across during your readings together!
From time to time, use your finger to track the words as you’re reading them to your child. Oddly enough, reading doesn’t come naturally—it’s taught. And children often don’t even know that words are to be read left to right.
Sounds silly, right? Though it may come naturally to the parent, the child needs to be taught. By tracking the words on the page, they are learning the basics of what it means to actually be reading.
Don’t do this each and every time, though, as it can be distracting and takes away from the fun of it. Decide to do it with every other page, or just one book a day to model the way its done.
Your child should catch you reading!
Our actions (much more than words) catch on so quickly with children. How to teach your child to become a reader? Read yourself, of course!
Make reading fun for your child by showing them that you think it’s fun, too.
Have your child catch you reading when they first wake up in the morning. Or better yet, set aside a time with your child where they read their book next to you while you read yours.
Doing so not only models for them the importance of reading, but also shows them that you like it, too.
By reading yourself, you’re promoting brain health and proving to them that reading can be fun–because Mom and Dad are doing it, too!
How do you spell “reading”? F-U-N!
Bottom line? Above all else, reading should be fun and engaging. Ideally, it should never feel like work. If any of the above become distracting to your child or not well-received, take a break and ease up.
The joy of reading should never be overshadowed.
There’s a magic that happens when your child sits on your lap as you read a book, and that should always be felt by them.