20 Things to Do Before and After You Read to Your Children
Earlier this month, we discussed the importance of reading and its effect on the brain development among children, in our post on “How Books and Reading Can Help Your Child’s Mind Grow.” In addition to physical brain development of the cortex, reading can help develop a child’s critical thinking skills.
To help encourage your children’s critical thinking, we have compiled twenty activities to do with your children to help flex their mental muscles.
Before You Read
1. Story Predictions
Based on the book’s title and brief summary, have your children infer what the book is about and what they think will happen to the main character(s). Once the book is finished, don’t forget to review their answers.
2. Word Sort
Before reading the book to your children, select a few words that may be difficult for them to understand or would give them an idea of what the story is about. Have your children sort the words by alphabetical order, nouns, verbs and adjectives. As an extra step, see if they can form sentences based on the words you have selected.
3. Look at the Cover Art
Spend time reviewing and looking at the picture art in the story before you read to your children. While looking at the pictures, be sure to ask them to share their own thoughts about what is happening in the pictures and what they think will happen in the book.
4. Read Aloud
If you are reading the story to multiple children, determine which child will begin reading and alternate reading between the two readers until the story is completed.
Compose a list of questions that will be answered while reading the story (such as the main character’s last name, hobbies, pets etc.). While reading the story to your children, have them write down their answers to the questions. Once the story has been completed, review the questions and answers.
After You Read
6. Business Card Book
After your children read a book, ask your children to summarize the book in a sentence or two on paper the size of business cards. Once your children have written enough business cards, share them with your family and friends. Ask them which book seems the most interesting based on the business cards.
7. Write to the Author
Have your children compose letters to the author of the book. Make sure they include what they liked or disliked about the story. Once they have finished, be sure to send or email the letter to the author or publisher.
8. Make a Map
Have your children create a map of the book’s settings. Be sure that the map includes important places in the story.
9. Write a Book Preview
Have your children write about the most interesting parts of the books to encourage family and friends to read it. Stage a book preview night with your family and have your children vote on the book to read for that evening based on the previews.
10. Create a Timeline
Create a timeline of all of the important events that happen in the story.
11. Watch the Movie Version
For books that have been turned into movies or vice versa, have your children watch the movie version after reading the book. Then compare and contrast how the movie and book versions were similar and different.
12. What If?
With your children discuss how the book would have been different if the characters were a different gender, race, age etc.
13. Character Analysis
Ask your children what the main characters are like and how similar and different they are to other characters.
14. Write a Biography
Have your children write a biography of the character that interests them the most.
15. What Happens Next?
Have your children write an epilogue in which they explain what happens to the characters next.
16. Book Revisions
Have your children rewrite a part of the story that they didn’t like. As an extra activity, make sure they explain how this change would affect the rest of the story.
17. Fictional Friends
Ask your children to share which of the characters they would like to be friends with. Be sure to have them explain why and what types of activities they could do together.
18. Book Review
Have your children write a brief review of the book, highlighting what they liked about the book and why they would or would not recommend this story to others.
19. That Was Then, This is Now
After reading the book, have your children create a before and after list to compare and contrast the ways that the characters or the setting has changed over the course of the story.
20. Re-telling the Story
After reading the story, have your children re-tell the story in chronological order as a group. Be sure to review and clarify any confusing parts of the story.
What are some additional activities you can do before or after reading to your children?