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4 Ways to Make Reading Fun

By taking a playful, pressure-free approach, you'll help your child enjoy books on his own in practically no time


The following ran in the January 2013 issue of Parents magazine. Education professor Jill Allor provided expertise for this story.

January 10, 2013

By Leslie Gariso Pfaff

Since Anita Lavine's daughter, Faye, had been an early and avid reader, the Seattle mom figured her 5-year-old son, Owen, would follow suit. The early part happened, but not the avid. "He wasn't interested in the books that were at his reading level," says Lavine. So she brainstormed creative ways to help him practice his new skills, like reading the back of his favorite cereal box, learning the names of familiar birds in a Pacific Northwest nature guide, and flipping through family cookbooks for cool recipes.

"Kindergarten and first grade lay the foundation for how kids feel about books throughout their education," says Annemarie B. Jay, Ph.D., director of graduate and doctoral reading programs at Widener University, in Chester, Pennsylvania. "It's important not only for them to learn to read -- but for them to like doing it." How can you make letters, sounds, and words seem as fun as playing a board game or building with Legos? Dr. Jay and other experts offer easy, engaging ideas that are tied to crucial literacy skills. Read all about them!...

Have a Word
Building a broad vocabulary is essential to reading comprehension now and later in school. One way to expand your child's vocabulary is to read aloud to him, choosing books that are a couple of grade levels above his. "He'll be acquiring a knowledge bank of rich words, and when he eventually comes across them on his own, they won't be 100 percent new," says Dr. Barclay. Find books that are likely to offer unique words. "There's great vocabulary in poetry, classic fairy tales, and nonfiction," notes Payne. "Stop occasionally if you come across a particularly unusual word, but don't talk about individual words so much that you interrupt the flow of the story," says Jill Allor, Ph.D., chair of teaching and learning at the Simmons School at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas. Instead, go back to them after you've finished reading the book....