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How You Can Make Reading Fun (Yes, Really)

I'm a lifelong reader, with a stack of books on my bedside table and a book in my purse. I was the little girl who always had her nose in a book, and the one the librarians knew by name. Having worked in a library for almost five years, helping kids of all ages and all reading levels, I learned that the fastest way to get a kid interested in reading was to turn it into a game. Whether you have a new reader, a reluctant reader or a passionate reader, these reading games will inspire discussion, laughter and memories.

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The Reading Jar

Dinosaurs, cats, superheroes, building forts, even the color orange—children are passionate about so many subjects. Have your child make a list of 10-20 of her interests, then write each one on a strip of paper and put it in a jar. Before you go to the library, have her pick a topic from the Reading Jar. Her goal (with help from you and the librarian, if necessary) is to find 10 books on the subject, both fiction and nonfiction. For instance, if she chooses birds as a topic, she might pick "Are You My Mother?" along with a field guide to birds. Not only will she discover a wide variety of books on a particular topic, she'll learn how to do basic library research.

Reading and Eating

If your child is a budding chef (or interested in performing experiments), play a game of Reading and Eating. You can use one of your own cookbooks or visit the library or bookstore for a kid-friendly cookbook. Following a list of instructions to create something is fun for even the most reluctant reader, especially if it means he gets to devour the results! If your child isn't ready to use a stove, he can try no-bake recipes for cookies, candy or pie, or make homemade ice cream or a fruit smoothie. Most cookbooks for kids include a range of recipes based on level of difficulty, but you can also find recipes that match the theme of a favorite book—such as "Green Eggs and Ham," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs."

The Reading Bookworm

The Reading Bookworm is a terrific visual to show kids just how much they read. Start with the bookworm's head cut from construction paper and attach a piece of yarn or fishing line and hang it from the ceiling. Make the first loop for the body and write your child's name on it (or have her name the bookworm!), then staple it to the head. For each book your child reads, write the title of the book on a strip of construction paper, then loop and staple it around the previous loop. This is a way to inspire your child during the summer break, but you can also do it for an entire year, with the bookworm stretching to the ground and around the room.

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Reading games are a great way to encourage kids to read—but admit it, you wouldn't mind playing these games too, would you? Parents who read have children who read, so make a list, read a recipe or build a bookworm, or just grab a book, sit down next to your child and start reading together.

Image via Twenty20/des

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