“Make it a game,” said Anna Rubin, owner and co-director of Renaissance Kids, an educational enrichment center in Brentwood that serves children as young as 3.
When her own children were young, Rubin would make a game of having them pick out letters or words in a book, or dump a tray of alphabet letters onto the floor and have them search for specific letters. “They loved it,” she said. “When it’s a game, there’s no pressure; and having fun while reading is key.”
Parents can make reading enjoyable in other ways, too, such as by creating voices for characters and acting out the story. Rubin suggested using a great deal of expression to get young children involved. “Who needs television when books can be so much fun to read?” she asked.
Puppets are another way to engage children in a book, said Linda Parth, a retired Los Angeles Unified School District principal who began her career as a preschool teacher. She recalled how she used to read a story to children and then sit down to make puppets with them. “The children would color the characters, and we would glue them onto Popsicle sticks,” she said. “We would then act out the story together, which they absolutely loved.”
Interactive books — those with tactile features or little windows to open — are also great tools to draw children into books, Parth said. Examples include Dorothy Kunhardt’s “Pat the Bunny” (Golden Books, 1940) or Paul O. Zelinsky’s “The Wheels on the Bus: A Book with Movable Parts” (Dutton Children’s Books, 1990). “They are so much fun for children at that age,” she said.
Here are some other tips for making reading fun for preschoolers:
Read early and often. No matter how young your child is, he or she will benefit from hearing the rhythm of reading.
Make reading time special. Sit in a comfortable, cozy chair and put your arm around your child.
Select books with large print so your child can easily pick out letters or words.
Choose books with beautiful illustrations to help draw your child in.
Preview the book before you read it. Think of questions you might ask when you read it with your child or comments you could make.
Read books with rhymes. This helps children learn rhythm.
Talk about the book afterward. Ask the child what he or she has in common with the characters, what the best part of the story was or how the story made him or her feel.
By Jennifer Evans Gardner, Special Advertising Sections Writer