March is National Reading Month. So, before the month ends, it is a great time to get your kids excited about books and reading, especially if they’ve been in a slump lately. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Make a Book-Related Food: You know we love to cook around here, so this is one of my favorite ideas! Just a few clicks on Pinterest can give you lots of ideas for treats to make to go along with picture books, but don’t forget about including your older kids, too. If you’ve got a Harry Potter fan, you could try whipping up some Butter Beer, or maybe your cooks would like to try a recipe from the Little House on the Prairie stories. Cooking is a great way to build interest in a book and teach some good skills at the same time! (If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen with your kids, I hope you’ll join us over at the Homeschool Share Blog each month for our new Cook with Books feature. We kicked it off with a picture book, but there will be ideas for kids of all ages as time goes on!)
Make a Book-Related Craft: Again, these are easy to find for picture books, and most young kids love to get out some paint and glue and work the afternoon away. Don’t forget about your older readers, though! The crafts may be more in-depth, but that can be a good way to let your kids take on more responsibility, too. I found a great site called LitWits that shares many wonderful ideas for chapter books, such as making cave drawings for Island of the Blue Dolphins or making your own hornbooks for The Witch of Blackbird Pond. When I was teaching in the classroom I found that my fifth graders really enjoyed these kinds of activities because they hadn’t gotten to do them very much since they weren’t in the younger grades!
Make a Go-Along Game: Not too long ago I shared a bit about using games for learning, and games would be a great way to review a book or even for an older child to show what they’ve learned about a book by making their own game. Books that have a journey in them like The Big Green Pocketbook naturally lend themselves to a simple board game and your younger children could even help make it!
Start a New Read Aloud: If you haven’t been reading aloud to your kids, this would be a great time to start a new book together! Pull a few off your shelves and let them decide what they think would be the most interesting one to start with, or surprise them with a new book in a series they already know and love. Read aloud time is probably my favorite time of the day!
Take a Field Trip: Field trips are a fun way to get kids excited about what they’re reading and extend what they’ve learned already. If you’ve got the resources, big trips are always fun, but most of us can’t hop on a plane for Australia when we read Katy No-Pocket. The zoo is close, though, and much easier on your wallet! Read a Matt Christopher book and go to a ball game together, or go on a nature walk when you read My Side of the Mountain and see if you can find any animals mentioned in the book. Field trips don’t have to be lengthy or expensive to be fun!
Give Them an Incentive: Maybe this could be considered bribery, but sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do if you have a reluctant reader. Help your kids set goals—number of books, number of pages, amounts of time, whatever works for you—and then let them know what good thing will happen when they reach those goals. Even if your kids love to read, it’s always fun to have a little treat!