From preschool to high school, literacy is a staple of every child's education. But, when you make literacy a family affair the messages can reach a deeper meaning. Go beyond reading to or with your children and help make connections between texts and the real world.
Read in the Book's Setting
Get literal and take relevant books to different locations for a unique family story time.
Go for a Hike
Grab a book or two about the woods, hiking, forest animals, or trees and head into the woods to read them. The novelty alone will be exciting, but you can also encourage everyone to find or make items discussed in the book. A few great reading selections for the forest are:
- Toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary kids: Bird Builds a Nest by Martin Jenkins, A Walk in the Forest by Maria Dek, or Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
- Tweens and teens: My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George or The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
- Wide age range: The Wild Robot by Peter Brown or Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Read in the Bathtub
Even if you don't live near any common story locations and can't go far from home, you can read in unexpected places like the bathtub! It's probably best to leave out the water when reading these stories for all ages.
- The Beast in the Bathtub by Kathleen Stevens - A fun tale featuring Lewis, who believes there's a monster in the bathtub
Around the World in a Bathtub by Wade Bradford - A book that incorporates information about different cultures in a unique way
King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood - A cute and clever story about a mischievous king
Attend a Local Author Book Signing
Award-winning and popular books are great, but many local authors have awesome stories to share too. Look for a book signing event by a local author at your library or a nearby bookstore and make plans to attend together. These events often include readings, fun activities, snacks, and question-and-answer sessions. You'll learn about the life of an author and the process of writing or publishing books and have a real-world connection to the story.
Plan a Reading Scavenger Hunt
Use any standard scavenger hunt list as the basis for your book selections in your home library, local public library, or bookstore. Assign each family member one or more items from the scavenger hunt list and challenge them to choose a book that incorporates that item. Read all the books together as a family to complete the hunt. Extend the activity by requiring each member to find only one list item at each of several locations you'll hit throughout the day.
Literary Scavenger Hunt List
Scavenger hunt items could be found in a book title, the author or illustrator's name, characters, setting, or plot and include things like:
- A type of housing
- A magical creature
- A breakfast food
- Something cold
- A month of the year
- The number three
- Talking animals
- A family
- Someone your age
- The letter X
Read Your Way Through Town
Starting from your own door, family members must stop and read any words they see along the way. This includes road signs, garden flags, informational flyers, and business names. If it includes letters, you have to stop and read it. Take turns reading each and, if desired, award points every time someone points out a new set of words. Younger kids will practice their reading skills while older kids and parents will learn about different businesses and activities around town.
Take a Literary Trip
For books that are set in real places, you can simply visit those towns or countries. If your book selection is set in a magical or made-up world, see if there is an amusement park or museum you could visit. Family-oriented literary locations include:
- Green Gables Heritage Place is located on Prince Edward Island in Canada and was the place that inspired the Anne of Green Gables novels.
- Learn all about witchcraft and wizardry at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida.
Great Maytham Hall in Kent, England was the inspirational setting for The Secret Garden.
Get Lost in Translation
Most books are translated into dozens of different languages so people around the world can read them. Transport yourselves to other worlds, learn to be better global citizens, and pick up a few new words when you read popular stories in languages different from your own. With picture books in particular you can often find dual-language versions that have the text in English and also in Spanish, for example. See if you can figure out which words from each language mean the same thing and if you can still understand the story.