My boys really enjoy a good read-aloud. And I enjoy any time my boys are getting into literature. In a desire to make literacy experiences a part of the memorable scenes of their childhood we’ve started celebrating each family read-aloud with activities that not only increase their comprehension and extend the learning, but also make the reading experience more fun and memorable.
This past month, we read The Tale of Despereaux. As the story began, I loved the idea of Despereaux reading those huge books in the castle library, so I used big sheets of easel paper folded in half to make a large book, and made my best attempt at fancy writing to begin the story with those words Despereaux found so enchanting, “Once upon a time…” The rest of the book was blank, and the boys filled them with their own tales of heroes and bravery.
As we wrapped up the book last week, I picked up these cute mice for a steal at Ikea. The boys were excited enough with the mice and began telling stories of the adventures they would have, but we soon needed a way to tell each boy’s mouse apart. So, in keeping with Despereaux’s tale, we tied thread around each mouse. (The thread is red in the story, but my boys used their favorite colors to tell them apart.) Of course, not long after that, the boys were asking what they could use for Despereaux’s sword. Luckily, I had some of these plastic needles on hand and so our valiant hero was quickly armed. As these toy mice head out on their own noble quests, my boys are building literary connections, language skills, and creative thinking.
Last month our book was Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A few day’s after finishing, we surprised our boys with their own golden tickets (tin foil sprayed with gold paint and printed with a good old Sharpie) slipped inside the wrapper of a candy bar. Just like in the story, the ticket was an invitation for fun to come the following day when we made chocolate dipped pretzels and watched the movie. We still hear the occasional references to Dahl’s colorful characters, and just the other day my six year-old commented that he wished he could find money on the street like Charlie did.
I’ve enjoyed watching these books become a part of our family memories, and love hearing the boys talk about the stories and activities long after we’ve finished the books. I’m hoping to build a love of literacy and a treasure of meaningful shared experiences.
Celebrating a book can be anything from an art project, a themed dinner, or a full-blown party. For me, the inspiration came when a friend of mine, a retired educator who’s passionate about literacy, shared how she had invited all of her grandchildren to read The Secret Garden. After everyone had enjoyed the story, she invited them all to a picnic in a local garden with a beautiful, secluded nook. Dressing in clothes recently brought back from a trip to India, the children talked about the story, danced, played, and even fell in the fountain. It was truly a memorable scene!
Have you celebrated any good books lately? Do you have any great books to recommend for our next read aloud?