Read it, Write it, Play it, Build it: Ten Fun Creative Reading-Related Activities

Helping your child to discover the pleasure of reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give him or her. Children who enjoy reading do much better at it, and those who do better at reading also fair better at writing. While some children dive straight into the world of books, however, others are resistant to reading, and may need a bit of encouragement.

Here are ten creative activities that will not only generate a bit of fun, but may also improve your child’s relationship with, and appreciation of books, reading, and stories.

1. Write about it: Play a game where you write a note to your child about a book you’re reading and they write back about a book they are reading. This gives them double the reading practice (as they’re reading your note, too) and they gain writing practice.

2. Reading corner: Together with your child, create a place for them to store and read their books. They can help you set it up, perhaps choosing a bookshelf and a chair or some cushions to sit on. Give them the freedom to decorate it and make it special.

3. Family library: An extension on the reading corner is to get the whole family involved and build a family library. Choose a space for the library, and work together to find suitable material for everyone. Again, you may want to add furniture and décor that’s conducive to a reading environment. Perhaps you can each have your own shelf that you get to set up as you wish.

4. Bookmarks: Get out the craft box and make some bookmarks together. Get creative using cardboard, coloured pens, feathers, magazine cut-outs, and stickers, to name a few. Your child may even wish to make some bookmarks as gifts for people.    

5. Re-enact it: This can be done in two ways. The first is quite literal: play a pretend-game with your child (dressing up, of course) where you re-play the story. The second way is to follow up the book with a visit to a place related to it. For instance, a story about animals might be followed up with a visit to the zoo.

6. Write a book: Get a few sheets of blank paper, fold them over in the middle, and staple along the spine so you create a book template. Now, fill in the blank pages. Your child may want to dictate the story for you to write, or they may want to give it a go themselves. Let them draw the illustrations too.

7. Family albums: Create family albums, scrapbooks or notebooks with your child. You could compile albums of family holidays, hobbies, sports, or even years at school. Let your child find photos, magazine articles, and brochures, or photocopy pages from books at the library to put into it. They may even enjoy writing (or dictating) captions for the images and photographs.

8. Record a book: Technology, nowadays, gives us the means to make voice recordings without tape recorders and other paraphernalia. You, your child, or both of you together can record your own audio-book to play back later.

9. Write notes: Leave notes for your child to read. Leave notes in their school lunch-box, next to their bed, on the fridge, on the bathroom mirror. Sticky notes are the best. Your child may like to reciprocate by leaving you your own notes.

10. Tell stories: Practice making up and telling stories, getting the imagination going, and developing an understanding of the structure of the stories children will encounter when reading. It’s fun to take turns, each contributing a little of the story before the next picks up where the other has left off (this is particularly useful if you have a few children/people around to play).

You may also find the following NZ Booklovers articles helpful: Why Kids Don’t ReadEnjoying Books: Ten Ways You Can Encourage Your Child to ReadIt’s a Readers World: Ten Reading-Related Activities for You and Your Child.

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Emma is an ardent writer, reviewer and editor. She currently lives in Orange, NSW, where she shares her time between writing, undergraduate studies in Linguistics and French (oui, c’est vrai!), and her “day job” as a yoga teacher. Emma especially enjoys reading women’s fiction, contemporary fiction and the classics.

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