Family Swagger

Games by the Book

Ideas to encourage children to read one word at a time

The act of reading provides an opening to a broad door leading to education, communication, discovery and limitless imagination. Parents understand that becoming a good reader takes practice, but getting  kids to devote time to sounding out words on a page and developing language isn’t always easy.

There is plenty of advice online about how to teach kids to read, along with expensive teaching aids and phonics games. As useful as many of these may be, I believe the most important tool we have as parents is our own voice. To raise a reader, you need to model being a reader yourself. Literacy organizations such as Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) seem to agree. RIF states that when you read aloud, you help build your child’s interest in words while motivating them to enjoy reading. Time spent reading aloud invests in the parent/child bond and creates positive feelings for all.

Never Too Early To Begin

According to another literacy website, Reach Out and Read, infants only a few months old can benefit from others reading aloud to them. They will benefit from the stimuli of your voice and pictures on a page, all of which will give them initial lessons in language.

As a mother, I am certain that reading, the act of verbalizing and relating words to pictures on the page was a positive influence on my child’s literacy growth. From the day my baby girl could sit up, I had her on my lap with a book in front of us both. I would read the simplest of stories, rhymes, and songs, having her touch pictures on the pages while making one-sided conversation about the silly antics we just read.

As my daughter grew, her interest in books thrived. By the time she was four, she was reading her favorite stories along with me, word for word, reciting to me what was going to happen on the following page or making funny voices for the animal characters. Around the age of seven, when her vocabulary and reading abilities had grown, we started to play several different games during our daily reading retreats. This was important because around this time my daughter had also been introduced to computers and electronic devices, so I needed to step-up the engagement level to keep reading in her daily routine.

Taking Turns Reading With Every Other Word

One of my daughter’s favorite ways to “play” during story time was to split up the reading task. I would read a word, then she would read the next word and we would do this back and forth for each page. This was fast paced, keeping her very focused, as she didn’t want to hesitate when it was her turn to blurt out the next word. Even as we read faster and faster, added in giggles and pauses to recover from laughter, the story was always recognizable.

As my daughter progressed to higher grade levels, her reading choices broadened and the books became thicker. As the books became longer, they provided chapters for us to modify our reading game to include whole paragraphs instead of single words. We would switch on and off reading aloud a paragraph back and forth. This exercise continued to encourage her reading skills and she was proud when she was able to read her sections without pronunciation mistakes. She also inserted personality in her voice when reading for a character, which I would then try and mimic when it was my turn to read. This special time reading aloud together continued to provide meaningful opportunities for sharing, growing, and learning about each other as individuals while strengthening our bond as mother and daughter.

You Might Need a Dictionary

My daughter also enjoyed reading on her own, challenging herself to pursue titles above her grade level. At times, I became her favorite talking dictionary. She loved to challenge me by finding words from her current book that I couldn’t define off the cuff. I guarantee you, nothing pleases an 11 year-old more than finding out there is something their mother doesn’t know. To expand her vocabulary, she was always encouraged to look up definitions on the Internet or to use her dictionary. Even at 13 years-old, she continued to enjoy reading together as part of our free time activities. Yes, my teenager would pick a title and share a story now and then with her dear old mom.  

There were no better hours spent than those spent reading together. No matter what kind of day I had,  our reading time together shut-off all the distractions around us.Reading became one of those special activities that really allowed me as a parent to be in the moment with my daughter, even when I had dishes to do, dirty laundry, dinner to make, and emails to answer.. It’s easy to begin the habit of daily reading with your child. All you have to do is snuggle up together, open a book, and let the words flow.  

Written By

I have lots of fun being active outdoors, learning about nature, trying to master skills like paddle boarding, and using technology to keep current and connected where ever I end up. I also enjoy helping to manage our farm, caring for my daughter, extended family, and learning about how to manage chickens, ducks, goats, cats, dogs and the occasional visiting wildlife.