- E. J. Nowicki
Reading For Fun: What It's All About
Let me begin by stating what is perhaps the most overlooked argument about why we should encourage kids to read:
And sometimes when we approach kids about reading what comes to the forefront are the benefits of reading and not one of the most appealing factors to sway kids into picking up a book: it’s a source of entertainment.
So with a fancy slogan that says it all, Reading For Fun, I hope to get rid of any thoughts that reading is nothing more than a ‘chore’ or part of schoolwork and bring the fun back into it.
WHAT I’M DOING:
When I decided to embark on Reading For Fun I brainstormed ideas of what I could I do to encourage leisure reading in kids. What could I possibly do to add to the fun that already is reading? And how can I get kids to see the entertainment value of picking up a book?
The best way, I think, is to take into account what kids already find fun:
Kids enjoy showing off what they know.
And kids enjoy easy to do worksheets that let them show off what they know.
I’ve found that while many worksheets exist to gear specifically towards certain aspects of reading or comprehension of small bits of text there aren’t a lot of worksheets that can be used universally with any book. Of the worksheets I’ve found that can be used with any book, most are geared to help write book reports or are a book report in themselves. And although those worksheets are great, I think as soon as most kids see the word ‘report’ they label the worksheet as something boring and hard to do.
So, even though I have decided to make a smorgasbord of worksheets. None of them will have the word ‘book report’ on them. I want these worksheets to be something flexible and fun with enough options for kids to pick one that matches their mood or thoughts about the book they’ve read.
While I started putting together the first ideas for my worksheets I found myself gravitating towards four different ideas.
1. Encourage kids to read for fun. I know, it’s not a surprise since that was my initial goal but it’s still worth mentioning on the list.
2. Treat each book as an achievement. And what I mean is not that reading the book has achieved better reading skills, but that each book read is a fun achievement.
We put drawings and good grades on the fridge to celebrate the achievement of a job well done but often times when a book is finished it’s mentioned and then life moves on. But we should be celebrating the achievement. Once a book is finished, it’s fun to think back and know we’ve read it.
With a collection of worksheets, it provides an opportunity for kids to flip through their completed worksheets and get a sense of all they’ve read—all they’ve accomplished. And that adds to the fun. It’s fun to accomplish things. That’s why many games have levels. When we reach a level we have the satisfaction of seeing what we’ve achieved. Same thing with collecting game-cards or baseball cards or anything really. It’s fun to have a reminder of what we’ve done.
If everyone keeps every book they’ve read, they may be able to look at their bookshelf and see their achievement but with borrowing from libraries, schools, friends, and loaning books to siblings and friends, that effect is sometimes lost. How fun will it be once a kid reads ten books or so and can flip through all the worksheets and actually see their achievement?
3. Empower kids to form opinions. Who doesn’t like to share their opinions? I want to give kids the chance to show their opinions about the books they read. Each worksheet has the opportunity to give the book a rating out of five stars.
With ratings only becoming more popular, it makes sense to let kids in on the fun. We rate everything from products to services to restaurants. Kids see all the ratings and can now rate their own books themselves. It also gives parents an idea of how much their child liked or didn’t like a book. Pick similar books for Christmas and birthdays—I know, books are lame gifts...but are they? They are a form of entertainment. It’s like giving them a movie or video game, it’s really an overlooked source of fun.
4. Spark conversations about books. Yes, I want people to talk about books more. I want kids to talk about books more. Word of mouth will always be the best selling points so let’s help sell more books by talking about them. And I don’t mean physical sales—although that doesn’t hurt the book market—I mean let’s sell people on the idea of reading. Let’s talk about books so others feel the need to stop at the library and pick up a book themselves.
If I ask someone about the latest movie they saw I can get at least a five minute discussion on the merits of it all. When I ask about the latest book someone’s read, I’m usually lucky to get an,‘it’s good’. And that goes double for kids, I can get a blow-by-blow of everything that happened in the latest movie but a shrug and soft-spoken ‘I liked it,’ about a book. We need more words about books! At least the same amount that you’d give a movie, it is just a different source of entertainment after all.
Not only does talking about books validate the idea that talking about books is a good thing it will hopefully set an example for kids to follow. I hope my worksheets will help spark a starting point in conversations. Parents can look at the worksheet and ask about what their child wrote. Kids can think about what they’ve written as potential topics to bring up to others. No matter how it happens I believe we all need more conversations about books in our lives.
I’d like to end by congratulating you, dear reader, for having an interest in making reading fun for kids. As always, the best motivators we can do for kids is set a good example, so I hope the next time you’re at the library or bookstore you pick up a book for yourself.
My worksheets, of course, are not the sole answer to trying to get kids to read for fun, but I hope they are a beginning step in bringing the fun back into books. Where taking the time to read through a few pages is a leisure activity that can easily be performed throughout our entire lives.
To see all my worksheets this far click HERE.
To see my worksheets with a holiday theme click HERE.
Disclaimer: These are just my thoughts and opinions to be taken in a non-professional manner. All worksheets on my site are free to use.
Questions? Contact me by clicking HERE.