I was reminded of this balance recently when a parent of one of my kinders asked what she could do to encourage her reluctant reader to read. We went through several suggestions but there was one in particular that I wanted to share because I think it represents some of the kinds of family learning activities I truly believe instill life long learning while also strengthening family bonds. I talked to this parent about making very short books together. I told her that one way to turn her young child into an enthusiastic reader is to make her an author. One way to do this was to create simple books. There are many ways to do this. For example, if you are not sure where to begin you can go shopping for a simple inexpensive sticker sheet that has one of your child's favorite character's... Disney Princesses, Thomas the Train, Mickey Mouse, even something generic. Stick one sticker per page and let them dictate a simple sentence.... "Thomas is on the track.", "Thomas is with Percy.", "Thomas says choo-choo." After a few simple pages your child can add a color background to each. Staple the pages and you have a new treasured book for your child to read! Depending on their age level you can make this simple or complex. The point is that your child will have a book with predictable text that they will love reading. They may even want to go to the library to look for other train books for inspiration. Hopefully their appetite for reading will begin to grow!
Raise the FLF: You can really turn the notch up for this activity by involving the whole family. This summer I tried this with the kids I was watching plus my own son. I was trying to develop literacy activities for children that ranged from 15 months to 9 years old. Towards the end of the summer I knew it was time to turn up the interest dial. I printed out some pictures from some of our park outings and we decided to make a book together. They had so much fun sorting through the pictures (about 10 of them) and choosing which should go on their page. To keep this realistic I only let each child do 3 pages, any more and it would stop being fun (mainly for me)!