As a reader, I have traveled the world, met famous artists, explored space and solved mysteries – without ever leaving my living room. As an author, I have used stories to encourage and inspire women around the world. Books can take us on amazing adventures, teach us about new people and ways of life, and encourage us through some of life’s hardest moments.
Although I’ve always loved reading (and almost always had a book with me as a child), my daughter prefers math because it comes more easily to her. There is something about two plus two always equaling four that gives her confidence, and she spends as much time figuring out math facts as she does creating art projects.
So, we’ve been creating fun (and sometimes funny) math word problems for her to read and solve. As she draws silly pictures to figure out the equations, she’s learning how reading, math and art can all work together.
If you have a reluctant reader in your home, try these ideas to encourage him or her to become a lifelong lover of the written word.
Read aloud to your child every day. Whether you read together at bedtime or do story time in the morning, reading to your child, no matter their age, can help them enjoy reading.
When children listen to great stories, they’re exposed to new vocabulary and grammar principles. But even more importantly, they begin to see how words construct meaning in the world around us. Whether students arrive in the classroom unable to read the alphabet or already reading chapter books, reading aloud offers the opportunity to capture their imaginations and introduce them to quality fiction and nonfiction. – We Are Teachers
BONUS: Borrow audiobooks from the library to listen to in the car instead of watching shows on a mobile device. Escape from Mr. Limoncello’s Library is one the whole family can enjoy – and it’s about books!
Think outside the book. Pick a kid-friendly cookbook or find a recipe online and work with your child to make the dish. They can practice reading (and math!) as they give you instructions and enjoy the delicious results. Traveling somewhere new on vacation? Why not head to the library or your local travel agency and find some books about your destination. Consider allowing your child to plan a small part of your trip so they can see how reading and planning can result in an amazing adventure.
Show them their progress. Create a fun sticker chart that shows your child how many minutes they’ve spent reading. Consider adding an incentive, like seeing the movie version of the book they’re reading, going to the park or taking a special trip to the bookstore.
Play games to encourage reading. I learned how to read by doing word searches with my grandfather. He read the word to me, and I matched the letters. Play games like “Swat a Sight Word” or “Sight Word Bingo” with younger readers to make learning to read fun. For older readers, consider “Boggle,” “Scrabble” or “Googly Eyes” to challenge their spelling, reading and creative skills.
Visit your local library. Librarians are incredible resources for communities, and they’re great at recommending the perfect books for young readers. Tell your librarian about the activities, books and movies your child enjoys. From graphic novels to non-fiction books and everything in between, your librarian can help readers fall in love with books by connecting reading with things they already love.
BONUS: If your reader enjoys non-fiction books, try the “Who Was” series. Then, go to Netflix and watch the episodes that match each book in the series when they’re done! Amelia Earhart is a favorite in our house.
Make screen time work for you. With more access to technology than any generation before them, today’s children are easily able to navigate computers, tablets and smartphones. Using apps like Epic, Bob Books, Mad Libs and Word Bingo gives parents a chance to connect reading with a tool their kids already love. Check out this list of other reading apps for kids of all ages.
Start a kid-friendly book club. Adults know how fun it can be to read a book with friends and then meet to talk about it. Why not include the kids? Invite 3 or 4 families with children of similar ages to read a book together and meet twice a month for a “Book Brunch.” Kids can snack on donut holes and fruit while they chat about their favorite parts of the book and their favorite characters. If a parent in the group enjoys crafts, consider doing a themed art project together. At the end of each meeting, choose a new book and decide on the next day/time/place to meet.
Finally, don’t forget to offer encouragement! Whether your child reads one page or an entire book, make sure they know you see the effort they’ve made and that you’re proud of them. A teacher’s praise gave me the dream to become an author. Your words today might offer the hope of a bright, exciting future your child has only just started to dream about.
Our mission at work
Upbring’s research has identified education as one of five key markers of every child’s well-being, and it is woven into all our programs.
Whether they are preparing to start kindergarten, making up lost ground in the classroom or taking their first steps toward independence, we believe in every child, and we give them every opportunity to shine.
About the Author: Crystal Stine has lived almost her entire life in a small town in PA and is married to her high school sweetheart. Her passion is encouraging, equipping and inspiring women of all ages to embrace a work hard, rest well lifestyle that honors God – so they can work without shame and rest without guilt. An author and speaker, her first book, “Holy Hustle: Embracing a Work Hard, Rest Well Lifestyle” released June 5, and her message has reached more than 20,000 people through her 10 Day devotional on YouVersion and countless others through podcasts, radio interviews, and national and international magazines. Crystal and Matt have a 6-year-old daughter, Madison, and when she’s not working as the communications director at her church, Crystal enjoys being a soccer mom – who only occasionally gets shushed for her sideline enthusiasm.