Reading is a way to be swept away to another world, learn something new, or even connect with another person.
And there are so many ways as a parent or an educator that you can nurture a love of reading in children, and making reading interactive is just one way to do that.
When you make reading interactive, you provide alternate ways to invite the reader into the story. You engage the child in the story through more than words, which helps to provide a deeper understanding and comprehension of the story.
Plus, interactive reading = fun!
The possibilities of inviting students into a more interactive story are endless, but here are 3 simple ways to make reading interactive for even the most reluctant reader:
1. Use stuffed animals or finger puppets.
You can find just about any stuffed animal character for any well-loved children’s book. If it’s not the identical match, you can improvise with a lookalike. Great places to look for stuffed animals are bookstores like Barnes and Noble, department stores like Kohls, and Amazon.
Finger puppets are also a great way to make a story interactive. Whether you buy a set of finger puppets specifically for a story or you have students make their own, finger puppets are a great technique to bring a story to life.
When stuffed animals and finger puppets are not an option, give felt characters a try. There are a lot of templates to create your own felt characters and stories on Etsy, but you can sometimes buy felt stories at bookstores or educational stores, like Lakeshore Learning.
When it comes to utilizing the characters during reading, you have a lot of options. Have the student recreate the story, make up a new ending, make a sequel to the story, make up a specific character’s backstory, or make scripts for a play version of the story. Let the student’s creativity flow!
2. Use pictures or images from the story.
You can use pictures from the story in so many different ways. Whether you’re purchasing a put together adapted piece book set kit, or making your own images, there are many ways to use the images during your interactive story reading.
But first, where and how can you get your hands on images from the story?
Your first option is to make copies of the book pages and cut the characters out. You can also do a quick Google search for character images or similar images that represent the characters. Sometimes you can even find clip art versions of stories to print out and use with your child on websites like Etsy or TeachersPayTeachers.
Once you have your images, here are some ideas for how to use them: in sensory bins, answering comprehension questions throughout the story, and story retelling or sequencing.
Empowering Kids With Character has compiled a list of 101 Must Read Books for Families, where you can find books that even the reluctant readers will love – this is a FREE list for you. You can download the list here.
3. Asking questions about the text and illustrations.
Reading is more than reading letters and text on a page. Yes, that is a huge part of reading, but reading is also inferring, reading the illustrations, understanding vocabulary and sentence structure, connecting to background knowledge and previous experiences, and analyzing.
Here are a few questions you can ask during any interactive read aloud:
- What do you think this book is going to be about?
- What do you think is going to happen?
- Does this book remind you of anything else you’ve read?
- What do you think will happen next?
- What was your favorite part of the book? Why?
- Did the problem in the book get solved?
- Tell me about the story in your own words.
Thinking out loud and meaningful discussions are positive results displayed when you begin asking the student questions about the book he or she is reading.
“Reading aloud and talking about what we’re reading sharpens children’s brains. It helps develop their ability to concentrate at length, to solve problems logically, and to express themselves more easily and clearly.” – Mem Fox
Reading with your child daily is so beneficial to overall learning and growing as an individual and as a reader. Take reading with your children or students to the next level by making the stories you read interactive.
Which method will you try first?
Stephanie is a dual-certified special education teacher, Master IEP Coach®, children’s book author, and teacher mentor. She has a passion for creating engaging, adapted resources for teachers and students with disabilities, and is self-proclaimed #datanerd. She understands that not everyone will love IEPs as much as she does, but it is her hope that with the appropriate training and resources, teachers will not only advocate harder for student services and supports, but also bridge the gap between teachers and families to foster a true IEP Team. She also provides professional development for teachers. You can connect with her at Mrs. D’s Corner and The Intentional IEP.
Stephanie is also a huge mental health advocate, sharing her experiences and struggles to let others know that you can survive the dark seasons and thrive in life and teaching with a mental illness.