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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“Seasons” by Anne Crausaz

Hooray for Spring!! And Seasons by Anne Crausaz is a great way to experience the changing seasons.  Crausaz will have you and your children smelling, listening, tickling and tasting all through the spring, summer, autumn and fall. I love the simple, bold and colorful illustrations in this unique Kane Miller book from France.

Seasons

by Anne Crausaz
Recommended for ages 4 years and up (my 3 year old likes it!)

40 pp

Hardback $15.99

“With simple, poetic words and accessible, energetic images, this small, square, joyful picture book celebrates the five senses through the four seasons…The shelves of picture books about the seasons are crowded, but this one stands out for its direct invitation to children to notice and wonder about the changing natural world around them.” – Booklist Online (February 24, 2011)

“The simple, understated illustrations along with the descriptive prose give a rich, evocative earthy sense: smell the blossoms of spring and lay back in the tender young grass listening to the birds singing; in summer breathe in deeply and enjoy the aroma of fresh tomatoes on the vine and basil, pad barefoot in the rich garden soil…and so on through the seasons.” – Biblio Reads (February 24, 2011)

“ The graphically designed, flat-dimension illustrations are both attractive and subtly effective in pairing the senses with the seasons as the girl enjoys the special moments of nature year-round.” – Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2011)

“The illustrations are a style unlike I have seen before – they are simple and yet the striking contrasts in color are beautiful. What a wonderful and unique look at the seasons!” – In the Pages… (February 15, 2011)

“Seasons is my Frederick at the moment, giving me wonderful memories of each of the four seasons.” – NC Teacher Stuff (February 2, 2011)

“Exuding an overall serenity, the book should have children seeking out the sights, smells, and sounds of the passing seasons.” – Publishers Weekly (January 17, 2011)

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More Reasons to Read Aloud

We read to children for all the same reasons we talk with children: to reassure, to entertain, to bond, to inform or explain, to arouse curiosity, to inspire. But in reading aloud, we also

Condition the child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure
Create background knowledge
Build vocabulary
Provide a reading role model”

From the Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Condition the child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure. This line caught my attention. Isn’t it amazing how we are conditioned to enjoy certain things?? (Now if only I could condition myself to despise chocolate.) And isn’t it interesting how easy it is to fall into old habits – even when we think we’ve conditioned ourselves to enjoy new habits (regular exercise, for example, comes to my mind). So let’s all start our children on the right path and condition them to enjoy reading!

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