Books stand on their own as art and entertainment, and sometimes the best
approach is simply to read a book and savor it. In other cases,
discussing the book enriches the experience. But it can also be fun to
pair books with activities such as crafts, trips, cooking, and more. Most
of the following ideas are geared toward picture-story books and
biographies, but reading a novel together can also lead to shared
activities. Some of the nonfiction books, in fact, contain activities,
such as science experiments, crafts, magic tricks, and more. Brainstorm
with your child about other possibilities, with the goal, as always, to
make reading a wonderful experience.
Combine crafts and books. Reading Stringbean's Trip to the Sea, then
make some postcards and send them to friends and relatives. Read Mouse
Paint and mix up some paints into new color combinations. Read Sea Breeze
Hotel and make a kite together. Read Paper Crane, then try some origami.
Add props to your reading of a picture-story book. Get a squirt gun or
set of Groucho Marx glasses for reading Chester's Way, or an eye patch for
Pair a picture-story book about an animal with a short nonfiction
book. Read Patrick's Dinosaurs, then a factual book on dinosaurs. Read
The Mare on the Hill, then a book on horses.
Read Eating Fractions, then cook together. Cooking is a wonderful
combination of math, such as fractions and measuring, and reading
recipes. Try one of the recipes in Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes.
Take a low-key field trip in conjunction with a picture-story book.
Read Matthew's Meadow and then take a walk in a meadow.
If you live in a city, read Alphabet City, then go look for letters in
your urban setting. With older children, read Round Buildings, Square
Buildings, and Building That Wriggle Like a Fish, then take a walk and
talk about the buildings you see.
After reading a book illustrated with collage, try making a collage.
Or paint with watercolors after seeing watercolor illustrations in a
book. Read The Big Orange Splot, then each draw your dream house.
Encourage your child to write and illustrate his own books. He can
dictate the words to you if he doesn't know how to print yet. Remind him
to add an "About the Author" paragraph.
Read a biography together about an artist and take a trip to a museum.
Paint a picture or make a sculpture together. Since children's book have
a limited number of reproductions of paintings, find a book for adults
with even more pictures to look at.
Read about a musician in Lives of the Musicians, Mozart Tonight, or
other biographies, and listen to music they have composed. It can also be
fun to do free-form drawing to the music.
Read a folktale from another country together and then locate the
country on a map. Find a book with photographs of that country. Read
Nellie Bly's Monkey, then trace her trip around the world on a globe...
Read about an athlete or sport, then go to a local sports event, such
as a high school or college game or track meet.
Read a novel together that has been made into a video such as Harriet
the Spy or James and the Giant Peach. Watch the video and compare the two.
Read a novel in conjunction with a trip to a geographic region: Go Fish
for Florida, Nekomah Creek for Oregon, and so on...
Listen to a book on tape together on a long trip. A number of the
novels in this guide have been recorded and are available at your library
or for rent through the mail...