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 non-book options they may enjoy.
These out-of-the-box ideas will help them to break their reading up throughout the day and also show them that recognizing words is a part of every day life. I've also included affiliate links where they might be helpful and add more information for your convenience.
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!
We do comic books that we enjoy reading as a family too -- each of us alternates reading a different frame in the strip. A few of our favorites include:
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.
Another way to keep up with current events is to introduce kids to an almanc -- yes, it's a book but it has a cool layout with TONS of photos and lots of small spurts of text. Not at all overwhelming like some of those long chapter books ;) Try the TIME For Kids Almanac.
4. 'Cheat' guides
Many of the poular video games have cheat guides which include all the codes for the games your kids play. Sometimes the cheat codes are published in an online guide, a magazine or a book. I frequently hear from parents that their child would rather play video games than read - so why not combine the two!
The kids will learn that they can use the codes to earn extra items in their game or find hidden places within the game - 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 Books & 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!
And once you reach your destination, find brochures that highlight all the fun places in the area -- the kids can read them before you visit the attraction.
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.
A few of our favorite kids magazines include:
National Geographic Kids - great for kids that love to explore the world
Kids Discover - introduces science, world history and nature topics in depth
Highlights High Five - perfect for preschool and early elementary kids
Ranger Rick - one of the best for those miniature nature lovers!
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?
The 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!
So go ahead, get caught reading!!
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