Read Across America (All Year Long)
National Read Across America Day was established by the National Education Association (NEA) and officially on March 2nd (aka Dr. Seuss’s birthday). But that doesn’t mean the celebration should start and stop within 24 hours.
Here at Reading With RIK, we like to celebrate Read Across America all year long. In honor of reading, here are some of the best ways to get your kids to read more.
1. Create a special reading nook in your home to comfortably experience the joys of reading
If you’re going to celebrate Read Across America all year long like us, you’re going to need a comfortable place to read. With a mix of fun, original, and wild ideas, you can create a space that sparks their imagination and nurtures their love for diverse books.
Start by selecting a cozy corner or a small, unused space in your house that's away from distractions. Fill the nook with soft seating options, such as bean bags, floor cushions, or even a mini hammock. Ensure the space has ample natural light during the day and add a whimsical reading lamp or fairy lights for nighttime reading sessions.
To make the reading nook visually appealing, paint the walls with bright, inviting colors or use wall decals and stickers featuring their favorite characters or inspiring quotes. Consider something fun from Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat In The Hat, or any other beloved picture book. You can also create a custom mural that represents a magical literary world or depicts scenes from a beloved book.
Consider adding a canopy or tent to give the nook a sense of adventure and privacy. A wild idea could be to create a "treehouse" reading nook by building a raised platform with a ladder or steps, making it feel like a secret hideout. Alternatively, you can fashion the nook to resemble a cave or spaceship for a more immersive reading experience.
Personalize the space with your child's artwork or framed illustrations from their favorite books. Include fun and interactive elements, like a chalkboard or whiteboard where kids can draw their favorite story characters or jot down notes about their reading adventures.
With a set-up like this, who wouldn’t want to read every day?
2. Create a habit of reading aloud together as a family every day
Reading aloud together fosters strong connections and nurtures a love of literature early on. It can be challenging to find time for this shared activity amidst busy schedules, but with a little creativity and commitment, families can make it an enriching experience.
Here are some ideas to make your goal of reading aloud together a reality:
- Establish a routine. Set aside a specific time each day or week for family reading sessions. This could be before bedtime, after dinner, or during weekend mornings. Consistency is key in creating a routine that the whole family will look forward to and cherish.
- Choose engaging books. Select books that are age-appropriate and interesting to all family members. Incorporate a variety of genres and authors, including classics, contemporary works, and lesser-known titles. This will keep the reading sessions fresh and engaging.
- Take turns reading. Encourage each family member to take turns reading aloud, regardless of their reading level. This promotes participation and allows everyone to experience the joy of bringing a story to life.
- Use voices and expressions. Bring the characters to life by using different voices, accents, or expressions. This adds a fun element to the reading sessions and helps keep the listeners engaged.
- Encourage discussions during book reading. Pause periodically during the reading session to discuss the story, characters, or any related topics. This encourages critical thinking and allows family members to share their thoughts and opinions.
- Introduce small prizes. To make the reading sessions even more enjoyable, consider introducing small prizes that coincide with the story. These could be themed stickers, bookmarks, or small trinkets related to the book. Distribute these prizes at key points in the story or after completing a chapter, adding an element of surprise and excitement. Ahem…subscribe to Reading With RIK.
- Connect with other families. Collaborate with other families to organize a shared reading session, a reading scavenger hunt, a rhyming activity, or a book swap. This can help expand your book lists and introduce a social aspect to the activity.
3. Make reading fun
Reading isn’t a chore! It’s a glorious activity that helps children develop cognitive and critical thinking skills. But kids don’t always think reading is fun. Thankfully, with a change in attitude and approach, parents can change how children view reading.
One way to make reading fun is by turning it into a game or challenge. Parents can create a reading bingo card with various book genres, authors, or themes, and encourage their children to complete the card by reading books from each category. Offering small rewards or incentives upon completion can add an extra layer of excitement. Additionally, parents can organize family reading nights, complete with themed snacks or decorations, turning reading into a special event that everyone looks forward to.
Another way to promote reading is by incorporating technology. Parents can encourage their children to use e-readers or explore educational reading apps that offer interactive features, quizzes, and games. These tools can make reading more accessible and appealing, particularly for children who may be more inclined towards digital devices.
Subscribing to top reading programs for kids can also help parents make reading more engaging. These programs often provide curated book selections, tailored to the child's age, interests, and reading level. Some popular reading programs include Scholastic Book Clubs, Amazon's Prime Book Box, and Little Free Library's Action Book Club. These subscriptions not only introduce children to a wide range of books but also create a sense of anticipation and excitement as they wait for their next shipment to arrive.
By adopting these strategies and fostering a supportive reading environment, parents can make reading a fun, engaging, and rewarding experience for their children. Through reading programs, interactive games, and family reading events, parents can instill a love for literature that will benefit their children throughout their lives.
4. Model reading for your children
I have good news. One of the best ways to get your children to read more is for them to see you reading. What does this mean? It means investing in your own self-care by reading the books you love you’re also investing in your children. Win-win.
One way you can model reading is by setting aside time each day for personal reading. When your children see you regularly immersed in a book, they begin to perceive reading as a normal and enjoyable activity. You can also discuss the books you are reading with your children, sharing your thoughts, opinions, and feelings about the characters or plot. This not only demonstrates active engagement with the text but also encourages your children to view reading as a valuable way to learn and explore new ideas.
You can also make a point of reading materials beyond books, such as newspapers, magazines, or even recipes. By showing that reading is a practical skill with diverse applications, you can help your children understand the importance of literacy in everyday life. Additionally, incorporating reading into family activities – such as reading aloud a recipe while cooking together or researching a topic of interest – can further emphasize the relevance of reading.
Another way to model reading is by involving your children in the process of selecting books for the family. You can take your children to the public library, elementary school library, or bookstore and demonstrate how to choose books based on personal interests, recommendations, or reviews. By involving your children in this decision-making process, you can encourage them to take ownership of their reading journey and feel more invested in the books they read.
5. Plan regular trips to the local library
Taking children to the library is an excellent way to encourage reading and expose them to a wide variety of books. The library offers numerous resources, opportunities, and activities that can pique children's interests and inspire a lifelong love for reading.
In their book "Freakonomics," authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner emphasize the importance of children being exposed to books. They discuss a study that found that children who grow up with many books in their homes tend to perform better in school, regardless of their parents' educational background or socio-economic status. Exposure to books and reading materials can foster intellectual curiosity, cognitive development, and critical thinking skills, all of which contribute to academic success.
Libraries provide an ideal environment for children to explore various topics, genres, and authors, helping them discover new interests and develop their own reading preferences. Many libraries have dedicated children's sections, often filled with colorful and engaging displays, comfortable seating areas, and age-appropriate materials.
Beyond the vast collection of books, libraries often host fun activities and programs tailored to children of different age groups. These can include storytelling sessions, reading clubs, arts and crafts activities, and workshops on various topics. Such programs not only help develop a child's reading skills but also allow them to socialize with their peers, build confidence, and foster a sense of community.
Try Reading With RIK!
If you’re looking for the best way for kids to develop a love for reading all year long, don’t just celebrate Read Across America Week. Instead, read every day. Also, consider joining Reading With RIK’s monthly subscription kit. Each toolkit comes with a new popular children’s book each month and 5-9 story-related prizes. Additionally, you’ll find a “think piece” in each box that helps children with reading comprehension.
This program is designed for kids in elementary school and middle school. It’s an excellent teaching resource that has helped hundreds of young readers become avid readers. Think of it as a year-round program to help throughout the school year and during the summer with showing kids how to love reading.