Read More Usborne

Building literacy one children's book at a time…

Games Make Reading Fun!

As promised in an earlier post, here are some great games mentioned in Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox. Games can make reading aloud more fun for both you and your child and add spontaneity to learning!

  • Turn the book upside down and start reading (or start reading on the last page of the book) and see if your child notices and corrects you. I don’t do this very often, but it’s funny to see my daughter turn into a little teacher/parent when I do. “No – this way!”
  • Read the wrong words. For example, if reading¬†Little Red Riding Hood, begin with “Once upon a time there were three little pigs…” This game teaches that the illustrations should match the words. This one elicits giggles and “That’s not what it says!” responses.
  • Sometimes skip reading altogether and just discuss the pictures with your child. I think my daughter really likes this because she has more time to really absorb what’s in each illustration and find all the hidden gems.
  • Point out words that are repeated and see if your child can spot more. I admit that we have only done this a couple of times and not very successfully.
  • Seek out letters on the page. For example, if your child’s name begins with “M”, see how many “M”s you can find on the page. One of my favorite letter recognition memories is when we were driving by the Golden Arches of McDonald’s and Maddie pointed and shouted excitedly “Big M! Big M!”
  • Stop mid-sentence and let your child finish (works best with favorite and familiar books). This also can let you know if your child is bored and not paying attention (and you haven’t noticed) – then you can find ways to re-engage.
  • Allow your child to turn the pages. Along with teaching the child left-to-right reading and page-turning, this game also helps keep an easily distracted child focused on the book and invites participation.

More games from Fox to help pre-readers learn include the following:

  • Use alphabet fridge magnets to write your child’s name. Also, these can be used to spell a simple word such as “can” and change one letter at a time to make different words like cat, rat, rut, rub, etc.
  • Encourage “writing” (scribbles).

Above all, keep reading aloud light, fun and spontaneous. Don’t bog your child down with too many rules and it’s best to leave out fun-killers like “Don’t be silly! Sit Still! Pay Attention! No! That’s Wrong!”¬† You get the idea…

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Voice Magic – Tips from Mem Fox

I really enjoyed reading Mem Fox’s Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever. She has some great tips for using your voice to transform books from ho-hum words to magical music. All you drama majors can stop reading now, but for those of us who majored in more technical and less expressive subjects (yes, I know… BORING!), here are Fox’s voice tips that I have found so helpful:

  • Sensationalize the opening line of a book to grab attention.
  • Savor the closing line. Say it slowly to make it “more delicious” and create a transition from the book to next activity (hopefully bedtime!).
  • There are at least 7 ways to vary your voice. Think high/low, fast/slow, loud/soft and pause.
  • Pay close attention to the story line to know how to vary your voice using these “7 ways”.
  • Take cues from the written words. For example, consider how you might express “the wind whispered…” vs. “the wind howled…”
  • Aim for highly interesting.
  • Experiment and develop your own style.
  • Use a sing-song voice to make the story like music.
  • Read a book the same way each time to help children remember the tune. This will also make them more likely to practice “reading aloud” to themselves.

Some don’ts from Mem Fox…

  • Don’t be overly expressive.
  • Don’t be cutesy, sugary, patronizing.

I will share more tips from Mem Fox’s book soon – she has many more ideas for creating reading magic and I love her ideas for reading games to play. In the meantime, you can learn more about Fox and watch videos of her read alouds here.

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