By Meena Sareen, REDBOOK
Reading gives kids the chance to exercise their imaginations and grow as people; however, they don't always realize that. Once they recognize that reading can be gratifying, they too will come to enjoy reading. Here are ten tips for helping bring books to life for your child:
1. Travel Without Leaving Home. Inspire curiosity by offering kids something different from what they experience in their day-to-day lives. Pick books from places or time periods different from your own. Once kids find a topic they're interested in, they'll be itching to find out more!
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2. Show Them the Rewards. Kids often don't see the intrinsic value of reading. Show them the value with rewards they can see. Summer reading programs are great but with the summer ending, consider Pizza Hut's Book-It program, which rewards kids for meeting afore-set monthly reading goals. For more details, go to bookitprogram.com. Alternatively, you can work with your child to create your own reading rewards system at home.
3. Make the Choice to Change Your Voice. Make a habit of reading aloud with your kids; in doing so, you show your children that you find books to be a worthy pastime. Try differentiating between characters by giving them each distinct voices. Stop to talk about the pictures and practice foreshadowing by inquiring as to what they think will happen next.
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4. All the World's a Stage. Have kids use their abundant energy to bring the books to life, literally. For a craft project and a learning experience all in one, work with children to create paper bag puppets or yarn dolls of the characters they read about in books. Or use old costume pieces to build outfits so kids can dress themselves up as the characters. After that, have them act out the story the way they remember it-a fun activity that doubles at fostering skills in paraphrasing.
5. Shake Things Up. After reading the stories, take turns taking the characters on different adventures. What would these particular characters find fun? How would they react in different situations? By giving stories alternate endings and making up sequels, kids are able to understand the characters and their motivations on a deeper level.
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6. Take a Vacation. Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure is divided into five sections, each a real life iteration of characters and worlds originally found in print. From Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park to the whimsical world created in the books of Dr. Seuss, this park has something for kids of all ages. From comic book characters from the Sunday funnies to Marvel's greatest superheroes, visitors are able to interact with characters like never before! This is true now more than ever with the recent opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The series created just over a decade ago by J.K. Rowling has since sold upwards of 400 million copies. Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative said they "have created an entirely new way to place guests into the heart of one of the most compelling stories of our time." Harry Potter fans will want to read their favorites yet again while those unfamiliar with the books will be so enchanted by the park that they may just want to give the books a try!
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7. A Walk in the Parks. Depending on where you live, there are several parks that specialize in letting guests step into their favorite children's classics. Places like Storybook Gardens (Wisconsin Dells, WI) and Storybook Land (Egg Harbor Township, NJ) are a great way for younger children to enjoy nursery rhymes and fables in a more tactile fashion.
8. The Play's the Thing. The National Endowment for the Arts is "dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans," kids included. They award funds to several theatre programs aimed at children in cities around the countrymany of which perform classic tales to the enjoyment of parents and children alike.
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9. Embrace Technology. We live in an age of ever-increasing technological capability, and learning to read is no exception. The Leapfrog TAG Reading System, for example, enables kids to read more autonomously. By recognizing the words on specially-printed pages, the Leapfrog pen gives kids the choice of being read a book from beginning to end or just a specific word.
10. Mini Field Trip. Set aside an hour or so to visit your local library or bookstore. Let the kids peruse the shelves for books that pique their curiosity. Many of these book-nooks offer readings, usually for free. Check your local library for listings.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.