Teach Your Kids that Books are Fun with These 6 Activities
Books are fun, amazing vehicles for transferring knowledge and adventure—and reading is great for a growing mind. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to convince your kids that books are fun. We have some suggestions for activities you can do with the books your kids are reading to help deepen their understanding and make the stories come to life.
Double Reaction Wall
The way a child reacts to a book can help them come to understand themselves and realize that they may have some valuable ideas to contribute in response. They may not realize, though, that reading a book is stirring up new ideas in them—so they may need a little help thinking more concretely about their experience of the book.
To help them bring this process to life, you can dedicate a board in your home to the books your child is reading. Divide the board into two categories:
- Things from the text
- Things from my mind
For everything they notice in the book—like an interesting quotation, a key event or character, or a piece of figurative language—they can respond with their own thoughts on it. Have your child write one one side the thing they noticed in the text, then on the other side of the board what they thought about it.
Make a Dramatic Adaptation
Experiencing the story in different ways can really help the story sink in and show your kids that books are fun. I know the stories that have become meaningful to me years after I read them are the ones I took the time to see from many angles.
There are a couple different ways to do this activity:
- Adapt the same story for a dramatic presentation. It’s a great exercise to get them thinking about how information is revealed.
○ If it is to be performed with only voices—like a radio drama—make sure that the context can be understood from just words
○ If it is meant to be a staged play or film, make sure that the context is understood through the stage directions and costumes as well as the words. Discuss with your kids how they might present the characters (how they talk, dress, stand, etc.) and why these choices make sense based on the text.
- Write a play or skit using the same plot in a new context. This activity can work for any age group depending on the text you’re using. For a third grader, you could use the book Frindle and write a dramatic version where similar events happen and similar characters exist, but perhaps they are all circus people instead of students. A historical fiction book could be rewritten as if the same events occurred today. In one of my classes in high school, we had to use part of the plot of MacBethto write our own skit. My group chose a neighborhood of retirees living on a golf course as our new context. The possibilities for this project are endless and really allow your child to use their creativity and see that books are fun!
When it comes time to perform these creations, make sure to keep an audio or video version around to revisit these fun memories. It is also encouraging for kids to have a tangible and lasting result for their creative endeavors.
Illustrate Your Own Version
Processing the textual information of the book and translating it into effective imagery is a profound exercise in critical thinking.
To do this:
- Read a book or part of a book.
- Choose the portion(s) of the text that you want to illustrate.
- Choose the idea you want to communicate and the key elements needed to communicate that idea effectively.
- Sketch it out.
- Determine the medium that is most appropriate for the feel of the book. It could be a pencil sketch, watercolor, acrylic, pastels, crayons, colored pencils, or digital drawing tools.
- Make a color palette. If you are illustrating several scenes, keep the palette consistent from scene to scene.
- Consider producing a bound copy of the illustrated book.
Write the Author a Letter
One reason that books are fun is that they are a way of connecting with people. As a reader you are interacting with someone’s ideas. Help your child see that there is a real person behind the text by writing a letter to the author expressing what they enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about the narrative. If the author is living, you may wish to send the letter. You may even get a reply!
Create a Timeline
Don’t underestimate the value of just getting order and timing of events in a book straight in your head! There are so many things that can come to light when the plot is written out visually.
Another way to do a timeline is to outline the author’s life. Look at what was going on in his or her life just before the publication of the book. Discuss how the author’s life may have influenced what he or she wrote about?
Make a Crossword Puzzle
A great way to help increase comprehension of the story is to have your child write clues for a crossword puzzle that can then be assembled using a crossword puzzle maker, drawing it by hand, or laying it out on the computer. When it is all done, they can challenge anyone who has read the book to complete the puzzle they created.
Teaching kids that books are fun is crucial to their development and success. At Enlightium Academy we prioritize these habits of engagement, lifelong learning, and critical thinking. The curriculum is full of questions that challenge students to respond to material personally, creatively, formally, and in terms of their faith, and our attentive teachers are constantly encouraging students to think more deeply and critically about the content they’re learning.