When we as parents believe that reading is all there is to books, then we are missing the boat. The adventure of a story goes beyond what is between the pages of any single book. Discover the ties that bind the stories together. Then lead your child through the process of seeing beyond what is in on the surface. It will pique their curiosity to try new things, to continue to seek out more, and lead to a more fulfilling life as they grow in the desire to read. Here are some helpful hints to dip into the well of exploration:
Find Additional Books
When a child finally finds their stride in reading, you want to encourage them to keep going in that direction. When they finish one book, have another ready to go. Frequent library and bookstore visits or having an eReader to download books are imperative. If they have a particular book that they seem to gravitate to, here are a few pointers on what to do.
Look for more books in the series. -You may not realize that a book could be part of a series. We often look for the words “Part 2” or something that identifies the book as a sequel. You may know that If You Give a Pig a Pancake is part of a series with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, but did you know that The Runaway Bunny is part of the series that includes Goodnight, Moon?
Look for more books by the same author. -Similar to finding books in the same series, you can also find books by the same author. You do want to be careful here. There are a few authors who write Children’s books whose additional works may not be entirely suitable for little ones. Judy Blume, the author of the Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing series, also wrote a few adult novels.
Look for more books on the same subject. -If your child likes Corduroy, they may like Winnie the Pooh or Paddington. If they like Madeline, they could take an interest in Eloise. The point is, if your young reader likes an aspect of a book, seek out other books that have that common thread.
Purchase Items That Have to Do with Story
This is the fun part, especially for the Merchandisers. Find things that bring your child’s book to life. You can buy a Deerstalker cap and trench coat for a fan of Nate the Great. Or a tiara and wand for your little fairy princess. Dress up is fun. It places your child in the character’s shoes. This can also be beneficial if that character has admirable qualities you would like to see in your child.
Other merchandising can consist of toys, dolls, and stuffed animals. Any visitor to a child’s room can tell what the child is into for that season. From bedspreads to curtains to what mess lines the floor. Their interests are reflected in the items they own, or rather what their parents buy for them. This can also work in reverse. If your child likes to play with dolls or miniature cars, then look for books on those things. Feed that interest with reading material.
Host a Children’s Reading Party
Did I say finding items is the fun part? Maybe I spoke too soon. Letting our children explore their interests in a corporate setting is really the fun part. Playing alone is one thing, but when you get two or more kids in the same room, it can be an adventure all to its own. When they begin to share their interests with other children their age, they learn other ways to express themselves. Through their friends, they discover new characters and new books. They discover a bigger world than they may have thought existed.
One idea is to have a costume party where each child dresses up like their favorite book character. Although it may be tough if more than one wants to be the same one, there are always ways of compromise. Maybe one of them can be from an alternate universe, or from a different time period. Help them be creative versus arguing over who will be Superman.
Kids can and will be adventurous on their own when we parents allow it. Their creative minds will blow us away, and their efforts can be quite comical. You will find Nate the Great and Olivia pig exploring the Land of the Great Things in search of Corduroy’s lost button. Or Vashti and Harold draw flowers for Ferdinand under the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom coconut tree.
The process of reading is just the first step in the world of Literature. Becoming the character brings the story to life. Whether it is dressing up, playing with toys, or a pillowcase with a picture on it, our children express themselves through the interests they have. They are not alone. Remember your childhood interests. Who didn’t have a character embossed comforter, or a toy box filled with items that allowed us to escape into another world? Books enabled these things to exist.
Yes, marketers know if a child likes a book or movie that they can mass produce a lunch box or an action figure that parents will pay a lot of money for, but aren’t our kids worth it? It is important for us to feed their imagination and to encourage them to explore their creative sides. Reading is just the beginning of the adventure a child can take. And we as parents can provide the tools necessary to bring these adventures to life.