There are plenty of books that work for multiple ages. And you get kids talking! About reading! Here’s how to ensure success.
Think Party—Not Homework.
“There has to be food,” says Kari Riedel, founder of the website Bookopolis, which helps kids discover new books recommended by peers (like Yelp for reading). Maybe it’s pizza night, a cookie-tasting event, or a doughnuts-and-hot-chocolate affair. As with any good party, consider your guest list. "Include grandparents or cousins, even over Skype,” says Pam Allyn, founder of LitWorld and author of What to Read When.
Do It in the Afternoon.
Says Jen Robinson, a blogger at growingbookworms.com. “Aim for when more energetic pursuits, such as day camp or sports, are finished. And do it toward the beginning of the summer. If it goes well, you could plan another one later—or, optimistically, every week.”
Give Them Post-It Notes...
...to place in the text before they start reading. “Tell them to draw a surprise face when something surprises them, a question mark if there’s something they don’t get, and a star if they just love a part,” says Allyn. “My kids loved that. They felt so grown up with their books full of sticky notes.”
Include a Hands-On Activity.
Riedel’s ideas: Write a letter to the author, write a book review, Google to see if you can watch a Q&A with the author online. Or make a blockbuster-style trailer summarizing the book with iMovie. “My kids love to act out scenes—the climax or their favorite part—and as they re-create it, they come to understand it better,” says Riedel.
Share the Conch.
We’re referencing Lord of the Flies here. The point: Everyone gets to talk; no parents hog the discussion. “Tell your kids that everyone has to come up with one question or thought to share so it’s not just Mom or Dad directing the conversation,” says Riedel. Prompts you can offer: Do you share any traits with the characters? How did the characters grow? What is the moral? What is the author trying to teach us?