If your house is anything like ours, I’m sure there are some books you have read with your kids about 1,000 times. They are the ones that you have memorized. You could read them in your sleep (and maybe you just might feel like taking a snooze while you are reading…).
While it is sometimes totally annoying to read the same book over and over (and over), the repetition is great for your kids. One of our family favorites is the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. Both my husband and I have it memorized, even our 3 year-old can recite the text. While I know reading the same book multiple times is great for my daughters as they learn language, hear rhyme, begin to understand stories, anticipate events, and grow in their love of books, I’ll be honest- sometimes I need to change it up a little.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a silly story about each of the letters of the alphabet making their way up a coconut tree that isn’t quite prepared to host such a large and rowdy bunch. Written in chant-like rhyme, this book is a lot of fun for little ones to listen to.
Here are some ideas of how you can make the reading of well-loved books, like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, a little more interactive; like a new book experience each time:
- Find something in the story-While reading the story ask your child to point to each letter of the alphabet on the pages as you read it in the story. Read it faster and see if they can keep up, read it slllloooooow (just to be silly).
- Ask for their help-As you are reading leave out some of the words of the story and encourage your child to help you ‘remember’ how it goes. Start with the words at the end of a line (if the text is rhyming this really helps clue them in), or words that can be identified by the illustrations. Omit one word per page, then move on to two words per page. You’d be surprised how well they can figure out what word is missing. (After all, they have heard the story a million times!) 🙂
- Point to the words- Use something fun to point to the text in the story (a little flag made with some paper and a straw, a hand from the Mr. Potato head set-this is my personal favorite ‘tool’). Encourage your child to run a finger (or something else) under the text. They will begin with just running their fingers under the words without much thought. That’s okay! Eventually you can encourage and model pointing at one word at a time (1:1 correspondence), which helps them begin to recognize single words.
- Use manipulatives- Let your child use magnetic alphabet letters to help you tell the story. All you need is a set of letters and a cookie sheet/metal tray. Encourage them to find the letter and then place it on the cookie sheet as you read each letter name in the story. You could also use foam letter stickers and work with your child to place them on a paper tree.
- Get moving- As you read the story, have your child jump every time they hear you read a letter of the alphabet. You could also clap, or even do a silent yell when you hear a letter name. (Kids love the silent yell-open your mouth and make a face like you are yelling loudly, but make no sound!)
- Channel your inner cartoon character-Try reading the story in different silly voices each time. You may feel ridiculous, but your kids will LOVE it!
- Invite an audience- Read the story to a stuffed animal (or a few stuffed animals).
- A change of scenery- This may sound trivial, but sometimes a change in environment makes the reading even more special. Read books outside! (Remember when you got to go outside for read-alouds in elementary school?! Everyone loved it!)
- Talk about it- Ask questions about the illustrations, talk about the story or the characters.
- Take turns- If you have a full-fledged reader in your house then you can partner read! Take turns reading the story. You could also read at the same time (choral read), have one person read and the other person repeat (echo read), have one person read in a normal voice and the other person read in a whisper (whisper read). There are lots of techniques to read with a partner.
Do I think ‘just’ reading books is enough? Yes. Kids need to be able to just listen and participate in reading a story sometimes. With that being said, I also think that we as parents/caregivers/teachers need to treat reading as an enjoyable experience. I don’t write this post so that ‘making reading fun’ becomes just another thing you have to do, it’s not meant to be another item on a checklist. These ideas aren’t a way to trick your kid into reading either. Kids can see right through that. This post is full of creative ways you can mix-it-up and add something different to your reading time and reading routines. These ideas are a place to start and while they won’t work for necessarily every story, you can adapt the concepts to fit just about any children’s book.
So, when your child brings you that same book you just read the day before (and the 3 days prior to that), make it new!