May is Get Caught Reading month - a challenge to everyone to do some reading (or listening)!
There's so much research that shows encouraging kids to read, and reading aloud to kids, helps to increase vocabulary, comprehension skills and overall achievement at school. But, I often get this question from parents, "What should my child read?".
My answer - anything they enjoy!
Books aren't the only things that will help kids to improve their reading skills and become more confident readers. And sometimes a child is just not interested in reading a story. So here's a few other options they may enjoy:
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1. Comic strips
So many kids have a sense of humor and love to laugh with comic strips. If you get a daily or weekly paper, have the kids read the strips to you!
2. Cereal boxes
YES! while they sit down to breakfast, lots of kids love to look at the box, right?! So, have them practice some reading - read the puzzles, or ask them about the nutritional values. This type of reading is nice because it's not a page with a lot of words - it's a fun, colorful box that usually has something interesting on it.
3. Current events
As your kids get older, they become more interested in what's going on in the world. Have them choose an article or two from the newspaper to read each week. Many papers have sections in entertainment, science, book reviews, articles on local schools - lots of news that would be interesting to kids.
4. 'Cheat' guides
No, not for school - the books that publish all the 'cheat' codes for the video games your kids play. I frequently hear from parents that their child would rather play video games than read - so combine the two! The kids will learn that they can use the codes to earn extra items in their game, or find hidden places - and you can point out that those benefits came from reading a book ;)
Does your child have an interest in playing an instrument? Reading music is also very beneficial. It helps kids to think in a different way and gives them an understanding of how 'sound' (musical notes) can be translated to paper.
6. Travel brochures
Planning a vacation sometime soon? Have your child check out a travel guide at your local library, order a brochure by mail or find an online travel site - all great ways to learn more about what they'll see on your trip!
There are all types of magazines available for kids - sports, crafts, hobbies, entertainment, and literary. Magazines offer kids the opportunity to do 'quick reading' - articles are short and can be absorbed in a small amount of time - so keep a few in the car for some reading while you run errands.
Ok, I had to put these on the list ;) But only because I want to tell you a secret: Please don't fret over what type of books your kids want to read.
If your 10 year old still wants to read picture books, let her. If your teenager just won't pick up a book, try suggesting some audio books. And if your 7 year old wants to read chapter books, find some good books with age-appropriate content.
Sometimes kids don't want to read a book because they don't have one that has grabbed their attention, or they may have one that's just too difficult for them. So try different topics and different types.
Here are a few books I would love to have every kid 'get caught reading':
"My Father's Dragon" by Ruth Stiles Gannett is the story of little Elmer, who runs away to Wild Island to save a baby dragon. It's a classic and a wonderful read-aloud!
"Half Magic" by Edward Eager tells the story of four kids who find some magic - but really only 'half the magic' they need. So each time they make a wish, only half of the wish comes true - but which half?
"Twenty-One Balloons" by William Pene du Bois - Professor Sherman attempts to sail across the Pacific Ocean in a hot air balloon, but instead lands on the island of Krakatoa. Once he learns the secrets of the island, he must stay forever!
"Gooseberry Park" by Cynthia Rylant is a wonderful story of three animals who become great friends. When an ice storm threatens Stumpy (squirrel) and her babies, a dog and a bat must work with her to help find a new home. Lots of excitement and laughs!