Read for Fun, Learn for Life
Today we’re sharing one critical thing we do – or rather, don’t do – to make great books fun for kids.
We don’t ask kids to read with assignments in mind. When kids read a book without having to “look for” anything (like the conflict, the antagonist, the turning point, etc.), and without having to stop and write answers, their minds are free to imagine and enjoy.
So we tell them to read for fun and only for fun. If they want to circle something intriguing in a copy they personally own, or put an exclamation or question mark or emoticon next to something, we say go for it. They love the notion of doodling in a book! (We don’t mention “annotation” yet – for some kids, that would take the fun out of it.)
We do tell them to keep an eye out for a weird object they can add to our book display – but “only unusual stuff — the weirder the better.” Kids are pretty eager to read when they think there might be something weird ahead. And when they recognize an object as something Grandpa keeps in the shed, or something their aunt collects, they’re excited to have “the real thing from the book” to contribute.
Sometimes new kids show up to our workshops feeling a little uncertain – “I’m not sure I ‘got’ this book.” But they “got” more than they thought they did, and by the time they’ve seen, smelled, touched, tasted, and done things from the story, they’re totally into it – and having just as much fun as the advanced readers.
As we review the story’s scenes and symbols in tangible, active ways, we can see those kids’ eyes widen with comprehension. Things they didn’t understand while reading are becoming clear. By the end, they can’t wait to go home and read that book again!
“I don’t know what happened in there,” said the mom of one uncertain reader, “but now he wants to read everything written by that author, and sign up for every other book you’re ‘doing’.”
That happens a lot! When kids read for fun and learn by doing, good things happen.
We hope that was helpful! We’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments.
Becky & Jenny