Between Frozen backpacks, Ninja Turtle t-shirts and Cars action figures (and toothbrushes, lunch boxes, snack packs — you name it!), kids today are inundated with pop culture products. Not only are these products often gimmicky and overpriced, they also encourage kids to watch more TV, see more movies and play more video games.
Kids already spend far too much time in front of screens — the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that kids spend a total of seven hours a day on entertainment media, which includes televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. In fact, television and other electronic media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2 and limited to no more than 2 hours a day as kids and teens, according to the AAP.
We all know that kids should spend less time watching TV and more time reading books. One way to encourage kids to read more is to make reading as fun as watching TV! There are lots of activities, crafts and games that you can do with your child to get them excited about their favorite books. Here are 6 ways to help your child lead a literary life.
For car-loving toddlers, try reading Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things that Go or Busy, Busy Town. These books have bright pictures and silly vehicles such as banana mobiles, carrot cars and donuts trucks that kids absolutely love! Afterwards, roll out the kraft paper and create your own Busy Town.
You can also recreate the Zoo from Curious George using stuffed animals or plastic figurines, build a bird feeder to go along with Are You My Mother?, have a dance party like Pete the Cat or go for a “bear hunt” in the park after reading We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. The possibilities really are endless!
Fun Activity Books
With Pinterest, it has become really easy to search for workbook pages and activities to go along with your child’s favorite books. These printouts are generally free and easy to print from the convenience of your home printer.
There are also some really fun activity books available for kids nowadays, such as Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Finish this Activity Book, Richard Scarry’s Best Busy town Games & Activity Book, and even Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site Lacing Cards and a Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site Memory Game for the kid-favorite Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site book. All of these options offer an educational, fun and stimulating alternative to TV time — and are fun for kids to do with parents or independently.
Kids absolutely love helping parents in the kitchen. And, luckily, there are tons of fun recipes you can make that tie into kids books, such as:
- Chocolate chip cookies from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
- Mini pizzas from The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza
- Chocolate milk and animal cookies from Sam and Dave Dig a Hole
- Green eggs and ham from Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. Tip: In a blender, blend eggs, milk and a pinch of salt with a handful of baby spinach or kale for some all-natural green eggs. No food coloring necessary!
Kids will love getting their hands dirty in the kitchen — the whole process will get them really excited about re-reading the book, and brainstorming other fun recipes and activities.
Wear Your Favorites
Kids love wearing t-shirts with their favorite TV and movie characters — and they’ll really get a kick out of a tee emblazoned with their favorite book or literary figure.
Go Trick or Treating
This Halloween, skip the Disney princesses and instead dress your little girl up as Rosie Revere, Olivia or Trixie from the Knuffle Bunny books. Or, have your guy go trick-or-treating as Peter Pan, Charlie Bucket or The Cat in the Hat. There are so many fun characters from kids’ books — make a project out of reading through books at the library to choose a fun character.
Thomas the Tank Engine, Winnie the Pooh, Stuart Little, Anne of Green Gables, Fantastic Mr. Fox — all of these beloved TV and movie stars are actually the title characters of classic works of children’s literature. Many of these books are longer, chapter books and would make great bedtime reading with your child. So, nix the before-bed TV, and instead curl up with one of these great books!
By incorporating reading in fun ways into your kid’s everyday life, you’re sure to raise a little literary lover. Next thing you know, your child will be ready to dig into the great literary classics — so you’d better study up on those yourself!