Name something better than books.... I'm waiting.
Chocolate, you say. Nah. Chocolate only lasts a few minutes (and if you make it last longer than that- well then chocolate makes you fat and books don't do that) but books last for hours, sometimes days, and when you find the right one- a lifetime!
Video games, your kids say. Never. A computer can never be smarter, funnier, or scarier than what goes on inside your head when lost in a good book. Plus, in video games you die or lose- you won't be doing either of those things reading. So, video games are okay- but books are magic. Video games happen on a screen; books happen in your imagination!
Shopping, some people of the world say. No again. Unless of course, you're shopping for books. But shopping still doesn't beat reading. The joy of a book stays with you forever, long after that new outfit, newly released video game, or latest food craze goes out of style. May I remind you of leisure suits, Pong, and the South Beach Diet. And may I also draw your attention to Little Women, Harry Potter, and Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing. See what I did there? Good books last forever.
So, let's encourage our kids to really get into reading (I'm talking obsessive level) by doing some reading challenges. Here's a list of 15 ideas that will have you and your kids nose deep in books for the foreseeable future.
1. A-Z Challenge: Read 26 books each starting with a different letter of the alphabet. You can make it more challenging by reading the alphabet in order.
2. Around the World: Read a book set on each continent. Or you could read books set in 10 different countries or states- what I'm saying is- you got options with this one. If you would like an Around the World Challenge template, sign up for my newsletter and you will receive a free copy of Read, Dang It! It not only has several Reading Challenge templates but also over 60 ideas to encourage reading.
3. Genre Challenge: If your child is stuck in a reading rut, this is the challenge to try. Proceed with caution. Do not push your child into reading books she does not enjoy- this defeats the whole purpose of the challenges. Feel free to download the Genre Challenge checklist or use it to spark some ideas for different book formats to try.
4. Raise the Ante: Determine how many books you're going to read and go for it. To make the challenge more visual, hang a chart on the refrigerator (I know you have room) and start ticking off those boxes or coloring in those books or whatever clever little activity you've concocted to track your progress. I've included a 12-bookstack template for you to download or you can find other templates in Read, Dang It!
5. Reading Time: Set a goal for the number of minutes you're going to spend in the company of books. If you are going to run the challenge for a week and you want your kids reading 20 minutes a day, then set your goal for 140 minutes. You get the idea. Maybe draw a clock on a chalkboard and keep moving the hands of the clock as you read. Oh, how the anticipation will build as kids see those hands ticking closer and closer to goal time! Once you reach the goal- sound the alarm and go for a treat (preferably to a bookstore).
6. Family Book of Reading Records: Track how many days in a row your family reads. Post this number in a prominent place and try to break your record. Not to brag, but I'm on a 6 day reading streak!
7. Read a Stack as Tall as You: Either create a stack for each member in the family or choose the tallest member and try to surpass him. This is a fun one, but you do need to have a lot of books on hand. Kids will get upset if books have to be removed from their stacks in order to avoid library fines. Oh, and don't forget to clear some space before this challenge begins, & uh, be prepared to explain your bizarre decor tastes to visitors!
8. Reading Rainbow: Remember ROY-G-BIV? Well, it's time to put that elementary acronym to good use. Take your kids to the library and instruct them to check out books with covers representing each color of the rainbow. This is an easy challenge, requiring only 7 books to be read to meet the goal. This might be a good one to start out with if you have (gasp) reluctant readers in the house.
9. Would You Read in a Tree? Of course, I would read in a tree! I would read in a tree, inside a box, with a tea, minus the fox. For this challenge brainstorm 10 or so fun places to read such as in a tree (of course), at the pool, in the tub, under the bed or at a park. You never know, you just might discover a new favorite reading spot.
10. Books to Movies: Do you realize about 50% of movies began as a book? However, not too many movies are made into books. (Hmmm.) Call me crazy, but I believe this further proves the superiority of books to all things. Even so, I must admit it is fun to watch someone else's vision of a book come to life on the big screen. If nothing else, it prolongs the experience with the book. If you're looking for some good book-to-movie adaptations for your challenge, I have a blog post for that- click here.
11. My Name in Books: Read books so that the first letter of each book title spells out your child's name. Or you can choose different words like pizza party, summer fun, or supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Once you wrap up the challenge, take a picture of your book spines and post it on Instagram. Use the hashtag #bookspinepoetry and be sure to tag me @staceywritesandreads. I love getting geeky on Bookstagram!
12. Reading Through the Ages: Read a book published in each decade dating back to 1900. Or if you don't think your kids will enjoy the classics, read a book published each year for the past decade. Another idea would be to read a book published in the birth year of each family member. Just like music, it's good to expose the kiddos to the oldie but goodies.
13. PopSugar-Like Challenge: Goodreads hosts a PopSugar reading challenge each year in November. They dole out a list of 40+ prompts on which readers are supposed to base their book selections. For example, read a book set in Main, read a book about a librarian, or read a book published this year. Get the idea? Start brainstorming with your kids for fun prompt ideas, pick your top 10-20, create a checklist, and start reading. If you want some prompt ideas.... you guessed it, subscribe to my newsletter to receive a free copy of Read, Dang It! You can also download my Summer Reading Challenge- which isn't 100% book prompts, but they're all bookish prompts- and it is 100% fun!
14. Book Hobby: Create a list of all your family favorites. For example, mine would include; boating, pugs, rollercoasters, pizza, art, chess, etc. Then, kids must read a book that relates in some manner to each item on her hobby list. You may want to help your kids think of ideas as well as set a number for the challenge.
15. Book Bingo: On a Bingo board, create 25 bookish prompts. Challenge your kids to complete five in a row for a reward or fill the entire board to receive an even bigger reward. I'm thinking books ice cream, & rollercoasters! Here's a sneak peek of a Bingo board found inside Read! Dang It.
There you have it- 15 Reading Challenges just like I promised. Reading Challenges aren't going to make reading better (reading is perfect just the way it is), but they can make reading more interactive and social. With everyone in the house reading, kids will have more opportunities to discuss books, debate issues, and articulate their thoughts. Not to mention, Reading Challenges serve as visual reminders (or encouragers) to read. Kids have fun monitoring their progress and working for that reward. But even more important than the reward is the self-confidence kids gain in their reading skills and ability to accomplish tough missions. Is there anything reading can't do? I'm telling you- books are magic.
Do you have any fun reading challenge ideas? Please comment below. As always, Happy Reading!