There’s a mantra that literacy experts like to chant: “Honor all print.” That means the back of a cereal box and directions for a new game count when you’re encouraging your child to read more. “Reading anything promotes fluency and comprehension,” says Jamie Steiner, who teaches literacy at Mary McDowell Friends School in Brooklyn, NY. “The more you read, the more you want to read.” And home is where kids can—and should—have limitless choice about what to read.
1. Let kids read: Signs
Such as: Road signs, street signs, license plates, even directional arrows
Thumbs up because: Interpretive reading is still reading.
Try this: Play Road Trip or Travel Bingo.
Appeals to: Visual learners
2. Let kids read: Comics
Such as: Newspaper strips, classic comic books, graphic novels
Thumbs up because: They’re fun to read and easy to dip in and out of when time is short.
Try this: Leave favorites like “Garfield” and “Peanuts” in the car or around the house.
Appeals to: Kids reluctant to tackle novels
3. Let kids read: Lists
Such as: Grocery, school supplies, and to-do lists
Thumbs up because: Mundane tasks are more fun when they’re interactive.
Try this: Have kids read lists out loud to you and cross off items and chores when completed.
Appeals to: Kids who blanch at long paragraphs
4. Let kids read: Labels on packages and boxes
Such as: The wording on breakfast bars, yogurt cups, cereal boxes
Thumbs up because: There’s plenty of good info in all that print.
Try this: Search for words that begin with each letter of the alphabet.
Appeals to: Kids who would otherwise bring digital devices to the breakfast table
5. Let kids read: Calendars
Such as: Wall, handheld, or digital styles
Thumbs up because: It keeps kids in the loop, and teaches a must-have organizing skill.
Try this: Let readers add playdates, lessons, quizzes, tests, and more.
Appeals to: Kids who learn well through graphics
6. Let kids read: Directions
Such as: Maps, games, recipes, GPS
Thumbs up because: Reading directions aloud is a subtle way to give a child more literacy practice.
Try this: Ask your child to read directions to you while you’re cooking or driving.
Appeals to: Those with patience—or who need help with patience
7. Let kids read: Fortune tellers
Such as: Cootie Catchers
Thumbs up because: It’s light reading mixed with origami and the fun of playing.
Try this: Check out videos on YouTube for how to make.
Appeals to: Crafty types
8. Let kids read: Mad Libs
Such as: The iconic hard-copy pads or online printables
Thumbs up because: It’s a creative way to get a grammar workout.
Try This: Mad Libs App lets you play with friends.
Appeals to: Families who like humor
9. Let kids read: Tweets
Such as: Twitter feeds (yours)
Thumbs up because: 280 characters max!
Try this: Follow a favorite author and share regular updates with your child.
Appeals to: Digital fans
10. Let kids read: Lyrics
Such as: Musicals like Hamilton or Dear Evan Hansen, or songs of a favorite artist
Thumbs up because: They engage kids in the poetry of music.
Try this: Print out and read/sing along.
Appeals to: Aural learners; pop-culture fans
11. Let kids read: Word games
Such as: Boggle, Scrabble, crossword puzzles
Thumbs up because: Reading and fun in one sitting
Try this: Apps like Word Snack and digital versions of the old standbys
Appeals to: Kids who like to amass points, scores, and levels
12. Let kids read: Quotes
Such as: Animals, space exploration, soccer—there are quotes for everything.
Thumbs up because: Kids can search the Web and read you their finds.
Try this: Make a wall or door sign with a favorite saying.
Appeals to: People with passions
13. Let kids read: Jeopardy answers
Such as: On TV, as a game
Thumbs up because: Reading meets knowledge.
Try this: Stage a Jeopardy night with pizza and TV.
Appeals to: Gamers, trivia fans
14. Let kids read: Story chains
Such as: One person writes down a sentence or two, folds the paper, and passes it to the next person who continues the story.
Thumbs up because: Funny to read aloud at the end, like Mad Libs, only more homegrown
Try this: Play around a dining table with the entire family
Appeals to: Imaginative sorts
15. Let kids read: Novelty cards
Such as: Pokémon, baseball, basketball, etc.
Thumbs up because: It combines literacy with math as kids sort and sequence, and absorb stats.
Try this: Quiz your child on cards from his/her collection.
Appeals to: Budding collectors