6. Read -- and write
Sharing their own ideas on paper can inspire kids to read what others have written.
Send fan mail: Colby, Catie, and Zachary Tomasello (ages 11, 9, and 6) of Land O' Lakes, Florida, mail letters to their favorite authors. They keep a copy of each letter, along with the replies, in a "Dear Author" notebook. Now, says mom Heather, "When they finish a good book, they can't wait to write the author and let him or her know." They find addresses online (usually in care of the publisher), and over the past three years, every single writer has responded, much to the family's delight.
Pen your own: Laurie Goldstein of Morganville, New Jersey, encourages her two boys, ages 10 and 13, to rewrite the endings of books they've read, make up stories to go with drawings they have made, and write their own tales. The payoff? Her older son has even gone so far as to write a whole book and self-publish it online.
7. Bring books to life
Get kids interacting with the story, and they'll stay engaged to the end.
Pick a personality: The Thomases of Dallas, Georgia, like to read aloud, then "jump into the book" by acting out characters and imagining how they would behave with one another.
Make sound effects: Eight-year-old Ikaika Kaahanui of Waimanalo, Hawaii, supplies the appropriate background noises, such as footsteps and closing doors, as his mother, Amanda, reads aloud.
Change it up: When reading old favorites, Darren and Noelle Bolstad of Martinez, California, switch words, while their young sons try to catch them at it. The Brodies of Fort Worth, Texas, rename characters to match family members and friends.
Originally published in the August 2012 issue of FamilyFun magazine.