Look Past the Page
Even if your child cherishes his book time with you, it can't hurt to mix things up a bit. Try these activities, and make it even more fun.
Start a collection. Before reading a baby book like Katz's Peek-a-Baby, gather up some things mentioned in the pages. When you come to the part about, say, a teddy bear, let your baby hold it. This helps her make a connection between the word, the picture, and the object.
Help kids become authors. Perl has discovered a simple way to encourage her kids, Franny, 11, and Beatrice, 8, to write and illustrate their own books. She folds a few sheets of paper in half and staples them down the middle. "I set out a pile of these beside a basket of crayons and markers," she says. This makes it easy for them to write and draw their own stories.
Act it out. Have your child use a hand puppet to channel one of the characters in a book, suggests Hills. He can then repeat some of his favorite lines, or you might ask him what the bird or pig might say if it came to life.
Plan a book-themed birthday. When her younger daughter turned 4, Perl arranged a party centered around her favorite book, Penelope Nuthatch and the Big Surprise, by David Gavril. (It's about a bird named Penelope who is invited by her friend, Luther Crow, to the ballet but instead gets taken for an unforgettable day at a water park.) All of Beatrice's friends were instructed to wear tutus and bathing suits. "We read the book and then acted it out," says Perl, who set up baby pools and water activities in the backyard.
Originally published in the November 2011 issue of Parents magazine.