Homeschool 101: How to Make Reading Fun!

Today’s homeschool help is for those teaching elementary age students.

When my kids were in the early elementary years (say kindergarten through second grade), we loved going to the library each week for Story Time. Before leaving the library, we all chose ten books to bring home (that meant 40 picture books and early chapter books!). Often, we spent the rest of the day sitting on the sofa together as I read through our stack of books. Those days were precious and fostered in each of our children a love for Story.

But reading didn’t come easily for all of them. Ironically, the child who took longest to learn to read became my most avid reader by middle school. So, my first tip isn’t about making reading fun, but being patient.

  • All children learn to read at their own pace – your job is to give them the tools they need and to persevere patiently.

While children become proficient readers, here are some suggestions for making reading fun for you and your children:

  • Choose interesting books to Read Aloud.

In our home, we began and ended most days reading aloud to our kids. I started the school days reading chapters from books about the period in history we were studying (historical fiction), or books about people (philosophers, explorers, scientists, mathematicians, inventors, etc. – biographies).

Some Historical Fiction we loved: The Golden Goblet by Eloise McGraw, The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth G Speare, The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth G Speare, Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates, Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.

Some Biographies we loved: All of Ingri d’Aulaire books (Lief the Lucky, Pocahontas, Abraham Lincoln, Buffalo Bill, Ben Franklin, etc.), Carry on, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham, Joni by Joni Erikson Tada, Joan of Arc by Lucy Foster Madison.

After dinner, we usually gathered for a classic Dad read aloud.

Some of our favorite fiction included: Pilgrim’s Progress retold by Jean Watson, Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling, Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

  • Listen to Audio Books.

We were often driving to and from appointments, music lessons, sports and dance lessons, etc. Listening to books was a wonderful way to expose my children to wonderful classics which enhanced their vocabulary and enriched their imagination. We would often arrive at our destination and our children would want to finish the chapter before getting out of the car. Sometimes we even finished the audio book in the house.

Our Audio favorites included: Focus on the Family’s Radio Theater productions: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and Ben Hur by Lew Wallace, the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, The Indian in the Cupboard by Melissa Matheson.

  • Create your own Book Club experience.

When the kids were able to read on their own, I started book clubs for our homeschool group. I found a little competition was motivational and group activities more enjoyable for myself and my kids.

Each month the groups (according to reading level) chose a book to read from a list of one or two books. Then we came together and the children shared a response to their book – they shared book-cover designs, models or 3-D representations, mock-interviews with the author, a formal book reports, skits, scene reenactments, etc.

After the responses, I taught a brief lesson on plot, or themes, or literary tools, or literary terms, etc. Then we played a game – like charades using book titles or fairy tales, etc.

The kids loved our book clubs and read great books – my children and the children in our homeschool group all benefitted from the clubs.

For more on Book Clubs, go to www.bookblurbs.com and select Lesson Plans for Literature!

Happy Reading!

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