Friday, May 11, 2007

How To Make Reading Fun

Reading can be a blast -- a wild, laugh-a-minute, occasionally rambunctious party between two covers. Here's how you can encourage your child to have some fun with books:

Throw a book exchange party

Invite your child's friends over, and ask them (or their parents) to bring five books they want to trade. Then let the bargaining begin! It's the best way to refresh your collection without spending cash. Tip: Offer gift bags for toting home "new" books.

Have some bath-time fun with books

Get your child a few bathtub books (made of vinyl and labeled "bath-safe") and some bathtub paint. Let your child "read" a book in the tub and draw pictures from the book on the bathroom wall with the paint.

Heard of books on tape? Make your own!

Read a book with your child into a tape recorder. Let your child add sound effects (using pots and pans, any musical instrument, utensils, anything that makes noise) or read a couple of lines of the book. If it's a favorite your child has memorized, let him read part or all of the book into the recorder. Let your child play the tape back and read along.

Let your child "buy" her own books

Make your own "book dollars" out of construction paper, and give them to your child for chores or good deeds at home. When your child earns ten or 15, go to the bookstore and let her spend the equivalent money on books.

Arrange a holiday book grab-bag

Try a preschool holiday gift exchange with books only. Each child brings a new book to wrap and contribute to the gift pile. Number all the gifts and then ask children to pick numbers out of a hat for their gift. You can add to the fun by asking all the other parents to give the teacher a children's book as a holiday gift rather than a ceramic apple for her desk. With a new book from every child, she'll be well stocked for the rest of the year.

Make an alphabet book

Draw each letter on a different piece of white paper. Then go through magazines and catalogs, and cut out pictures of things that begin with each letter; glue them to the page. Next put the book together. Let your child put the letters in order. What you'll need: a stack of white paper (more than 26 sheets to account for mess-ups), markers or crayons to draw each letter, old magazines and catalogs, a glue stick for gluing pictures, and a stapler to assemble pages or a hole punch and string to tie the pages together.

Frame a book

Make a color copy of your child's favorite picture in a book -- or favorite book cover -- and frame it for the bedroom. Let your child pick the frame, or pick a plain white one and let your child decorate it. What you'll need: access to a color copier -- try a local office supply store or chain such as Kinko's, an 8.5 x 11" plain frame with wide rim for decorating (if the book is smaller than a standard sheet of paper, cut down the color copy and put it in a smaller frame), and materials to decorate the frame, such as permanent markers, glue, ribbon, feathers, stickers -- anything goes!

Play dress-up and act out a book

Invite your child's friends over to play the other characters.

Have a reading picnic

Take your favorite eats and your favorite books to the park.

Serve a meal from a book

Use food coloring to make green eggs and ham, try to re-create parts of the Grinch's Christmas feast, or make your own oatmeal porridge for the Three Little Bears.