20 Ways to Encourage Reading

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download (1)Studies show that the more kids read, the better they read and the more pleasure they get out of reading. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Children who read very little usually have poor reading skills. Reading can be a struggle for many children. Recently, I read an article written by RIF that had some great tips on how to encourage reading and I wanted to share some of that article with you.

Why do children at times not like reading? Read the statements below and ask yourself if they sound familiar.

  • It’s boring. 
  • I don’t have the time.
  • It’s too hard.
  • It’s not important.
  • It’s no fun.

20 Ways to Encourage Reading

I’ve stated why some kids don’t like to read, now for some ways to turn that frown upside down.

1. Scout for things your children might like to read. Use their interests and hobbies as starting points.

2. Leave all sorts of reading materials including books, magazines, and colorful catalogs in conspicuous places around your home.

3. Notice what attracts your children’s attention, even if they only look at the pictures. Then build on that interest; read a short selection aloud, or simply bring home more information on the same subject.

4. Let your children see you reading for pleasure in your spare time.

5. Take your children to the library regularly. Explore the children’s section together. Ask a librarian to suggest books and magazines your children might enjoy.

6. Present reading as an activity with a purpose—a way to gather useful information for, say, making paper airplanes, identifying a doll or stamp in your child‘s collection, or planning a family trip.

7. Encourage older children to read to their younger brothers and sisters. Older children enjoy showing off their skills to an admiring audience.

8. Play games that are reading-related. Check your closet for spelling games played with letter tiles or dice, or board games that require players to read spaces, cards, and directions.

9. Perhaps over dinner, while you’re running errands, or in another informal setting, share your reactions to things you read, and encourage your children to do likewise.

10. Set aside a regular time for reading in your family, independent of schoolwork—the 20 minutes before lights out, just after dinner, or whatever fits into your household schedule. As little as 10 minutes of free reading a day can help improve your child’s skills and habits.

11. Read aloud to your child, especially a child who is discouraged by his or her own poor reading skills. The pleasure of listening to you read, rather than struggling alone, may restore your child’s initial enthusiasm for books and reading.

12. Encourage your child to read aloud to you an exciting passage in a book, an interesting tidbit in the newspaper, or a joke in a joke book. When children read aloud, don’t feel they have to get every word right. Even good readers skip or mispronounce words now and then.

13. On gift-giving occasions, give books and magazines based on your child’s current interests.

14. Set aside a special place for children to keep their own books.

15. Introduce the bookmark. Remind your youngster that you don’t have to finish a book in one sitting; you can stop after a few pages, or a chapter, and pick up where you left off at another time. Don’t try to persuade your child to finish a book he or she doesn’t like. Recommend putting the book aside and trying another.

16. Treat your children to an evening of laughter and entertainment featuring books! Many children (parents, too) regard reading as a serious activity. A joke book, a story told in riddles, or a funny passage read aloud can reveal another side of reading.

17. Extend your child’s positive reading experiences. For example, if your youngster enjoyed a book about dinosaurs, follow-up with a visit to a natural history museum.

18. Offer other special incentives to encourage your child’s reading. Allow your youngster to stay up an extra 15 minutes to finish a chapter; promise to take your child to see a movie after he or she has finished the book on which it was based; relieve your child of a regular chore to free up time for reading.

19. Limit your children’s television viewing in an effort to make time for other activities, such as reading. But never use TV as a reward for reading, or a punishment for not reading.

20. Not all reading takes place between the covers of a book. What about menus, road signs, food labels, and sheet music? Take advantage of countless spur-of-the-moment opportunities for reading during the course of your family’s busy day.

Full Swing of Summer

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Its carefree mood took me by surprise.

I wasn’t expecting it to intrude so quickly, but it it’s here and I am hardly prepared to relax.

Party. Beach. Vacation.

Kids standing around the pool on the hot cement waiting.

Can we jump in? Summer says “Yes!”

Cotton candy, carnival, fairgrounds, amusement park rides.

Standing in lines. Waiting for the fun to begin.

Finally the whistle blows.

Summer is here, but it will leave us too soon.





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On adventure. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

“The bold adventurer succeeds the best.” ~ Ovid

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”~ Michael Althsuler

“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” ~ Yogi Berra

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~ St. Augustine

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” ~ John Steinbeck

“When you fall into an adventure, you never know where you’re gonna land.” -Scribble, from Dot and Scribble Fall into Adventure.

“The journey not the arrival matters.” ~ T. S. Eliot

Vacation Adventure

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disneyland 07 117 (3)Did some say vacation adventure?

The thought of an adventure, I’m sure, brings pleasant thoughts to mind. Visions of the Hawaiian Islands or the peaks of Yosemite probably race through your memories, but vacations and adventures can be chaotic too. Vacations take us out of our routines and place us in unusual places filled with unpredictable activities. And most people like their predictable routines.

Add to that, how some people like to chill out on vacation and sit beside a pool. That’s the definition of boring for me. Like kids, I want to go, go, go! My wife recently told me about a family she knew who had gone on vacation to a foreign country. The family had a lousy time. They spent lots of money, stayed in fine hotels, and had it all planned out, but they couldn’t wait to get home. I’ve been on trips like that too. You tend to hear phrases like, “Let’s make the best of this.”

disneyland 07 084 (2)Once I went to Florida in August. 100 degrees and 100 percent humidity. Disney World in August is not the happiest place on earth. We were running from indoor show to indoor show to shops to restaurants. The experience makes a great story now. At the same time, I don’t know one person who would turn down a free family vacation. disneyland 07 190 (2)

Vacations and adventures are like that. Unpredictable. Some people thrive on the unpredictable, but most of us like our routines. Which type are you?



Paint me a Picture

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If I gave you a piece of paper and told you to paint me a picture of a place you wanted to visit, what would you draw or paint? Perhaps you’d paint a landscape of an ocean scene. Maybe you’d paint some trees or a beach. You’d probably paint something peaceful and serene.Picture 1a

In my soon to be released book, Dot and Scribble Fall into Adventure, the inciting incident involves a character named Hudson painting or drawing an adventure scene. Here’s an excerpt.

Hudson hunched over his desktop and stared at the blank sheet again. He gripped his pencil and leaned over the desk surface as if he were about to dive into the picture. He was ready to create.

With long strokes, he drew the outline of a lake and a mountain with two peaks. He picked the higher mountain peak and drew a castle made of stones. Then he connected the castle to the lake with a winding path. After filling in the landscape with trees, he pulled back from his picture and nodded his head.

The book on medieval history sat propped opened against the wall near Hudson’s stacks of books. He had books on every subject: space, animals, geography, the world wars, and many more; but his current favorite was the book with pictures of knights, dragons, and mysterious castles.

His grandfather, whose desk he sat at, would have been proud of all the reading he’d done on the Middle Ages that week. The current chapter displayed a picture of a typical 11th century scene. Serfs performed their daily duties in one section, working crops and selling goods, while knights trained with weapons in another section.


Fall into Adventure


IMG_0511Last summer my son and I went on a whirlwind tour of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Along with my brother-in-law and Clay’s cousin Kyle, we visited Glacier National Park in Montana, the Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone. I still have fond memories of hopping from campground to campground. 2,300 miles! Whew! There’s nothing like adventure!

This summer, I’m struggling to think of a trip to top that experience. Great adventures are like that. We all have them, but they don’t come often enough and it’s hard to top the last great time we shared with friends and family.

In my newest book, Dot and Scribble Fall into Adventure, I explore the need we all have for great adventures. The central character, Scribble, is bent on having adventures as much as possible, but Dot his friend, is reluctant to push the limits.

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter, where Hudson begins an adventure of a lifetime by drawing Dot and Scribble.

The picture Hudson drew was supposed to be a copy of the medieval picture on his desk, but it lacked the realism he wanted. Life was like that for Hudson. He could never quite make the picture into a work of art.

“I need a few characters,” Hudson said. “I need a knight, a few dragons… a troll or two, and a princess.”

Hudson looked at the picture and then at the pencil in his hand. “Come on, do your thing,” he commanded the pencil.

He knew all he could draw were stick figures. Who was he trying to fool? He drew a stick boy, frowned, and crossed him out. The boy wasn’t quite right. Maybe if he tried another.

He drew another stick person and smiled. “Better—some pretty hair and a nice dress,” he said to himself. The stick girl stood tall with straight legs, a polka dot dress, and wavy hair.

Hudson finished the picture of the stick girl, smiled, and added some dots for eyes. He looked at the stick boy and shook his head. “You’re Scribble, ‘cause you’re a mess.”

Scribble looked reckless in a fun kind of way, but he was no knight in shining armor. And the stick girl was hardly a princess.

He looked at the stick girl. “You’re Dot.”

Dot and Scribble smiled back at him.

“Honey, it’s a beautiful day outside.” Hudson’s mother poked her head inside his door. “You should go out and play. Go on an adventure. Take a ride on your bike or something.”

“I’m busy, mom.” He barely heard her close the door behind her when she left.

Hudson drew a great tree at the bottom of the mountain near the lake. He looped a rope over the tree for swinging. The final touch was a small wooden house for Dot and Scribble to live in.

He imagined that Dot swung without a care, her pretty dress and long hair flapping in the breeze. Scribble, however, swung too high and jumped off into the sky when it was his turn.

Scribble screamed with glee before he went splat.

Hudson laughed. Sometimes he wished he were an adventurer like Scribble.

He drew a dog that ran free. The dog sat pretty before Dot, but chased Scribble all over the yard.

Dot liked to sit in the tall grass and sing to the lilies. Scribble liked to run, fall in the dirt, and roll in the sloppy mud.

“Not exactly what I had in mind,” Hudson said. He looked at his picture. “But it’s a start.”Picture 4a

The picture from the book on medieval times made Hudson wish that he lived during the times of the knights. He could almost imagine what would happen. Knights would protect the castle from
invaders and dragons. There would be a key or a princess in the castle keep.

Hudson decided on a key. He drew the outline of a special key worth all the wealth in the kingdom because of its magical ability to transport its holder anywhere. Then, he cut the key out from the piece of scratch paper and placed it in the castle keep.

He finally pulled the chair up to his desk and sat, taking in his work of art.


Online Activities for Families

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Keeping kids engaged over the summer is important. Of course, going outside should always be the first choice, but kids can’t stay outside all day. As you can imagine, there are plenty of things online to help your children pass those long summer days. There are lots of other quality websites for kids — here are a few more of my favorites:

PBS Kids: This site offers great activities, contests, and interactive games.

National Geographic Kids: offers great nature videos, activities, games, stories, and more.

Discovery Kids: video, games and activities to explore dinosaurs, sharks, space, pets, history and more.

Young Explorers: Museum Run, The Great Dig, Time Explorer and more online games from the British Museum.

Smithsonian Kids Collecting: how to start your own collection and see what other kids collect

Explore Dinosaurs: FAQs and top 10 myths about dinosaurs, a virtual dig, behind the scenes tours, and more from the National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian Digging for Answers: a site that tests your research skills and knowledge
NASA Quest: interactive explorations that engage students in real science and engineering. Topics include robots, helicopters, lunar exploration, and designing your own human-friendly planet

My Wonderful World: a multimedia tour of our seven continents

Time for Kids: fun games (The Great State Race), an online weekly magazine written for kids, and news from around the world
Introduce your students and their families to stories from around the world. Let them know about the International Children’s Digital Library, an amazing (and growing!) collection of international children’s books available to read online in their original languages. Big Universe is another online library of fiction and nonfiction books for kids 0-12. The site also offers adults and kids the chance to create and publish their own stories.

I also suggest audio books as an alternative to print, especially for kids with learning disabilities that make reading a struggle. You can now download stories to iPods and other mobile devices, perfect for car rides or a lazy hot afternoon. AudibleKids has an extensive collection of downloadable books, and some of them are free through a partnership with RIF.

For students with vision or learning disabilities, tell your parents about Learning Ally which provides free audio books for kids to listen over the summer.

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