Finding new ways to boost literacy – through play – has always fired me up.  

In our Child’s Play NY classrooms, I love creating games that reinforce language-learning. For example, in a game like Treasure Hunts kids learn from reading the clues.  And in a game like Down by the Bay the rhymes also provide important and joyful ways into learning to read.

Aside from games though, I wanted still more pointers on how to develop a love of reading in my own child.  

“If you love the backs of cereal boxes or still recall how much you loved the Archie comics, share all that with your child. Ingesting words, like fruit and vegetables, is just plain good for us, no matter where they are coming from.”
― Pam Allyn, What to Read When: The Books and Stories to Read with Your Child–and All the Best Times to Read Them

So, I turned to my friend and colleague, Paula Zamora-Gonzalez, the librarian at Friends Seminary in Manhattan for advice on how to help kids love reading.

Her tips are simple yet profound.  She suggests offering kids CHOICE and acknowledging that whatever they are attracted to in print is valuable.  Additionally, she affirms how important it is to have a meaningful connection with who you are reading with. Her awesome suggestions here should not be missed.  Watch this video to see what she advises to help nurture learning and literacy in kids.

Here are some other things that inspire kids to love reading.  These aren’t sponsored products, just tools that I like and want to share with you! These have been a hit in my family since they are play-based and allow for some sweet bonding time too.  They are adaptable and often come in many versions so you can tailor them to fit your child’s passions and interests. 

And Then (Story Starters 20 Imaginative Beginnings)

Winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards, these fancifully illustrated jumbo cards have a super amount of words on the single page.  This allows for you and your kids to create the next stage of the imaginative journey together once given the prompt. Depending on your child’s reading level, you can ask for help in reading the words that catapult the adventure.  

Dover Activity Books 

love reading with this Dover activity book

These bite-sized books are great to throw in your bag for a waiting room or a subway ride.  Kids can read the instructions on how to help rescue a dragon in the maze or do a word-search, or simply enjoy coloring in these fantastical beasts.  (If your kid isn’t into dragons, Dover makes scores of other similar books too!)

Big Life Journal

Filled with beautifully illustrated inspirational quotes and affirmations, this journal is superb for not just reading, but writing as well.  Each week is broken down into a theme that motivates kids to use a growth mindset and inspires grit, courage and curiosity. Kids will love reading back what they wrote too.  It is the perfect starter journal and also is super bonding as it sparks discussion and connectedness with the “journal buddy”!

National Geographic Funny Fill-ins

Ever the hilarious option, I keep a couple of these books within easy reach of the dinner table and I throw them in my go-bag for weekends away.  Like their Mad Libs predecessor, these books help kids understand parts of speech, (verb, noun, adverb, etc) but they also have even more specific words to fill in (clothing, funny noise and electronic gadget).  Kids will love reading the stories back for laugh-inducing time!

Kids Cookbooks

kids love reading with help from coo

My mother always said, “If you can read, you can cook.” There are some fabulous kids cookbooks out there that make reading super pleasurable and  of course bonding. What is more satisfying that eating something delicious that you made, simply because you could decode the recipe!

Highlights Laugh Attack

These classic jokes are great for the back seat or waiting rooms.  They are super silly ways to encourage bonding and play through reading!  They are divided up into sections so your child can pick the type of joke (knock-knock/riddle) or theme (vacations, animals) they like best.

Melissa and Doug – Deluxe Water Wow

This deluxe version of the classic Water Wow is a genius new toy from Melissa and Doug.  The words on each page are connected to the pictures so children will get practice reading as they are totally engaged.  Kids become super sleuths with mazes, hidden pictures, and silly things, using not just a water pen but also a special magnifying glass.  In addition to the labeled words, they have to read the instructions to know what to hunt for.

Weird But True

Jam-packed with really cool facts that kids will love to expound, this is a super way into literacy.  The fonts are fun and readable and the photographs help make the words come to life. Additionally, its small size makes it great for on-the-go playing as well!

To see more of Paula’s great advice, watch:

“Books that help kids learn it’s ok to make mistakes” and

“Empathy Inspiring Books for Kids and YA Readers”

Of course the best way for kids to see how much you value reading is for you to read for pleasure in front of them.  I love carving out time in the early morning and late at night when we are each reading our own books, quietly together.  That’s true coziness! 

Please share with me your favorite tools, tricks and tips to help kids love reading.

Thanks for watching and reading!

Warmly,

Jocelyn

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kids laughing while playing a storytelling game to practice listening

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