“Instead of Easy Readers” Series, Part Four: Hints And Tips

Up till now, in this series, I’ve had neat categories for everything. Today’s post will include a few more “general” hints and tips about how to help your child learn to read and how to make reading fun.

LET YOUR KID READ WHATEVER THEY WANT. No, seriously. I mean it. WHATEVER THEY WANT. Do not judge the material (other than to make sure it isn’t harmful to them). Think about this – what did you like more, that book you loved or the one you had to slog through in school because it was on the required reading list? Which motivated you more? I’m gonna bet it wasn’t the required book.

Meet an author, if at all possible. Luckily for us, right as the “Pigeon” books were becoming really popular in our home, Mo Willems came to the library in downtown Seattle. Of course we went. Kai met him. We got some books signed. We read them regularly. This helps make the books more real. It makes them fun and exciting. It helps cement them in kids’ minds.

Kai has word magnets and letter magnets. We use them write sentences on the fridge, spell out words, make sounds, etc.

Use environmental print. Point out words you see everywhere. From the name of the restaurant to the word “STOP” on a stop sign. Milk at your table or in the refrigerator. Labels of things. Point out words. Maybe even point out sounds within the words or similar words. Let them point out things to you.

We’ve done some sight words games. I have mixed feelings on these. Yes, they help with identification. Somewhat. But I don’t spend a lot of time with them because Kai often finds them boring. Your mileage may vary. We’ve done sight word bingo, sight word concentration, and sight word go fish. I will say that these have actually helped for us more when I included parents’ names, names of the cats, friends, family, things we like to do, etc.

One thing Kai and I use to do a lot – for a while, it was every day, now not quite as often – was use the foam letters he has in the bathtub to play word games. So, sometimes, I ask him to collect specific letters and tell him what order to put them in. It was his job to read them. This was mainly three or four letter words. I’d also have him change just one letter and tell me what the word said. Sometimes, I’d have him try out a few different letters that he picked out to see what, if anything, they said. We played around with word families. This was one of the most popular, most requested things we’ve done.

Sometimes we use the wrong word while reading. Kai calls this the “mess up a word” game. So instead of “I was reading this book,” we might read, “I’m potatoing this book.” When we do this, Kai will often correct us.You may find, as we have, that one word gets used over and over. For us, that’s potato. Kai giggles hysterically anytime we substitute the word “potato” for something else.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what I suggest if you’re still feeling a bit unsure.


This is the fourth post in my series “Instead of Easy Readers”.

2 thoughts on ““Instead of Easy Readers” Series, Part Four: Hints And Tips

  1. Angie

    I’m really enjoying your series on reading, Misa. My sons are 11 and almost 13, but I’m still picking up a few new tips from you, and being reminded of things I could still be doing despite their age. I ordered a Doctor Who word magnet set from Etsy and haven’t put it up yet. I’ll get on that. I’ll let you know where that leads. My kids can both read, but it’s not something that they are currently really into. My oldest, N, began reading very early. The last thing he read was Cujo. So that’s icky! But I, like you, believe kids should read what they want.

    Has Kai seen the I SPY books yet? I feel we’ve discussed this, but my memory is a fright. xo

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  2. Misa Knight Post author

    Joe is a BIG Stephen King fan. Kai hasn’t read any of his stuff yet, but I assume he will within a few years.

    We have an I SPY book, but it’s not been a big hit. It seems fairly difficult for him, though, so we’ll probably revisit it soon.

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