Everybody knows that reading with kids is a must. It cultivates imagination, sound-letter recognition, a love of reading and storytelling, sets the foundation for all future learning… and much more. We know this. What adults don’t often think about is the difference between making reading a passive activity for children versus an active one.

Kids are active, hands-on creatures with tons of energy and a deeply kinesthetic way of connecting with and understanding the world. Knowing this, we can make reading a more dynamic and interactive process. For high-energy kids with shorter attention spans, (ha – that means ALL children), reading becomes much more fun when they are engaged participants. Here are three ways we can do this:

1) Ask Questions. There are five main types of questions we should ask while reading with children, and it’s easy to remember them through the acronym CROWD:

  • Completion – fill-in-the-blank questions

(“The cat in the… “)

  • Recall – remembering details of the story

(“What game did the Cat in the Hat play first?”)

  • Open-ended – these require kids to think & articulate

(“How do you think their pet fish feels in this picture?”)

  • Wh – who/what/when/where/why questions

(“Where did the children’s mom go for the day?”)

  • Distancing – bridging material in the story with kids’ real lives

(“If you were home alone, would you let the Cat in the Hat come inside?”)

2) Act Things Out. Kids need to move, so use opportunities within the story to encourage movement. This helps kids stay engaged, connect with the characters and have more fun – it will also greatly reduce any behavior problems that could otherwise come up from boredom.

  • Focus on sensory experiences. If there are flowers in the story, pretend to smell them. Blueberries? Pick them off the page and pretend to eat them. Tap into the imagination!
  • Is there a knock on the door? Invite your kids to knock on the floor with you. Is a main character tiptoeing? Tiptoe around the room! Is a dog barking? Bark! Make the story come alive!

3) Follow up with activities that reinforce the story. Play a game using characters from the story, do an arts or crafts activity inspired by what you read, re-enact a scene from the book (ie, a musical parade) – find fun, creative and educational ways to bring elements of the story out into real life!

Interested in learning more about building children’s literacy skills through dynamic reading techniques? Check out my workshop!


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