As Emilie Buchwald’s saying goes, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” I want to instill in my children a love of books. I want them to appreciate the magic of books; to see how books provide a playground for imagination and an extension for their thoughts. In an effort to build and nurture this love, I have given a lot of thought to channeling their curiosity through books. The trick with engaging my son’s curiosity has been to make the reading process more proactive and interactive.
For example, the other day we were reading “Where the Wild Things Are.” I started asking him questions: what do you think of this little boy? If you were going to write a book like this one, what would your characters be like? Would you have monsters? What would they look like? Would they be nice or scary? In asking these questions, he started paying more attention. By the end, Sohan no longer saw the words and ideas in the book as the author’s alone, but also as his; the simple process of asking questions and encouraging him to personalize the story gave a new life to a story he’s read one too many times.
To take it one step further, we designed our own monsters. My son and his cousins loved creating their own monsters, and they continued their discussion of the book much longer than if we had just read the story. They compared each others monsters to identify similarities and differences, they compared their monsters to the ones in the book, and then they went on to tell their own “Where the Wild Things Are” stories.
Later that week, we tried an art activity with the story “It Looked Like Spilt Milk”.
After reading the story, we created our own “spilt milk” art using glue and construction paper.
Once again, a simple activity led to interesting connections, analogies, and questions. The teacher in me cheered on as I discovered an engaging activity that not only developed his critical thinking skills, but gave me the opportunity to share in the joy of reading with my son.
For more inspiring ideas on how to help your kids engage with great children’s literature, check out the whole series on “A Book and A Craft” assembled by a group of incredibly creative bloggers over at The Crafty Crow.
What are your favorite literature inspired art & craft activities?