The benefits of reading to our children are really endless. In addition to fostering a love of reading and books, when we spend time reading aloud to our children, we foster speech and language development, help build vocabulary and enjoy a time of natural bonding.
Many books we read to our children are for more than enjoyment. Books can help teach our children important lessons. For example, many books teach moral lessons, like the importance of good manners, or practical lessons, like how to care for a pet. For parents who wish to increase the takeaway value of a lesson learned through reading, doing a related activity can be beneficial. Since the books we read to our children often feature favorite characters or topics, doing something more can also provide for additional fun.
If you are looking to help hit a lesson home or to expand the fun, consider:
- Drawing or painting a picture that illustrates something about the book. By asking open ended questions like "Can you tell me about your drawing?" rather than asking "Is this a car?" you can gain great insight into what your child creates.
- Acting out the story. Encourage your child to dress up as a character. Put on a play or host a puppet show. Make puppets from old socks or brown paper bags or act out the story using dolls or stuffed animals. Consider videotaping the performance for your child to watch and enjoy.
- Doing a related craft or activity. If you are reading a book about gardening, plant your own bean seeds and watch them grow. If you are reading about a tea party, have one of your own. If the story is about cookies, bake some to share.
- Taking an adventure. If your story is about a zoo, take a trip to one. If it is about a fire engine, visit your local fire house. If it's about the seashore, visit the beach (or make your own in your backyard!).
Since children have different learning styles and learn best in different ways, incorporating a hands on activity may better help them to understand the lesson and enjoy the story. Some children learn by seeing, others by doing and still others by experiencing. When children are able to connect to a story or topic on several levels, by using many of their senses, they may be better able to absorb what they are learning about.
What do you do with your children after reading a favorite book? Share your ideas in the comments section below.