6 Ways to Help Your Child Lead a Literary Life

Between Frozen backpacks, Ninja Turtle t-shirts and Cars action figures (and toothbrushes, lunch boxes, snack packs — you name it!), kids today are inundated with pop culture products. Not only are these products often gimmicky and overpriced, they also encourage kids to watch more TV, see more movies and play more video games.

Kids already spend far too much time in front of screens — the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that kids spend a total of seven hours a day on entertainment media, which includes televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. In fact, television and other electronic media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2 and limited to no more than 2 hours a day as kids and teens, according to the AAP.

We all know that kids should spend less time watching TV and more time reading books. One way to encourage kids to read more is to make reading as fun as watching TV! There are lots of activities, crafts and games that you can do with your child to get them excited about their favorite books. Here are six ways you can help your child lead a literary life.

Get Creative

For car-loving toddlers, try reading Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things that Go or Busy, Busy Town. These books have bright pictures and silly vehicles such as banana mobiles, carrot cars and donut trucks that kids absolutely love! Afterwards, roll out the kraft paper and create your own Busy Town.

You can also recreate the Zoo from Curious George using stuffed animals or plastic figurines, build a bird feeder to go along with Are You My Mother?, have a dance party like Pete the Cat or go for a “bear hunt” in the park after reading We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. The possibilities really are endless!

Fun Activity Books

With Pinterest, it has become really easy to search for workbook pages and activities to go along with your child’s favorite books. These printouts are generally free and easy to print from the convenience of your home printer.

There are also some really fun activity books available for kids nowadays, such as Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Finish this Activity Book, Richard Scarry’s Best Busytown Games & Activity Book, and even Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site Lacing Cards and a Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site Memory Game for the kid-favorite Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site book. All of these options offer an educational, fun and stimulating alternative to TV time — and are fun for kids to do with parents or independently.

Make pizza!

Kids absolutely love helping parents in the kitchen. And, luckily, there are tons of fun recipes you can make that tie into kids books, such as:

Kids will love getting their hands dirty in the kitchen — the whole process will get them really excited about re-reading the book, and brainstorming other fun recipes and activities.

For a literary-inspired birthday party, make a bunch of different appetizers inspired by books. Any of the above recipes are very party friendly, and you could also add fruit/veggie platters from The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Jamberry, mini cupcakes from If You Give a Cat a Cupcake and tea sandwiches with marmalade from Paddington. Instead of toys, request that each guest bring a book with a personal inscription for your tot. Or, have everyone bring a new book to donate to the library!

Wear Your Favorites

Kids love wearing t-shirts with their favorite TV and movie characters — and they’ll really get a kick out of a tee emblazoned with their favorite book or literary figure.

Product Recommendation

Out of Print Clothing celebrates the world’s great works of literature through fashion. Their products feature iconic and often out-of-print book covers. The company strives to spread the joy of reading through its tees and accessories, as well as give all children access to great books. For each product sold, Out of Print donates one book to a community in need.

Out of Print’s selection of kid’s shirts is impressive; with an array of beloved titles old and new. From Curious George to Charlotte’s Web, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel to Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Out of Print is sure to have one of your child’s favorite titles.

All shirts are printed on brightly colored, super soft cotton, with many available as both t-shirts and onesies (because it’s never too early to get your child interested in reading!). Your little monster will love this super-soft, gray Where the Wild Things Are tee — and little monkeys will go ape for Out of Print’s banana-yellow Curious George t-shirt!

For library story time, check out Out of Print’s selection of tote bags. We love this gray Library Card tote bag for trips to the library. It’s made from durable cotton canvas, and at 14” x 18”, is the perfect size for a weekly haul of library books. You’ll also have fun explaining to your kids the “old-fashioned” library card system that was around when you were a kid!

Go Trick or Treating

This Halloween, skip the Disney princesses and instead dress your little girl up as Rosie Revere, Olivia or Trixie from the Knuffle Bunny books. Or, have your guy go trick-or-treating as Peter Pan, Charlie Bucket or The Cat in the Hat. There are so many fun characters from kids’ books — make a project out of reading through books at the library to choose a fun character.

For a complete list of Halloween costume ideas, including ideas for literary duos, trios and groups, check out 100 Halloween Costumes for Siblings!


Thomas the Tank Engine, Winnie the Pooh, Stuart Little, Anne of Green Gables, Fantastic Mr. Fox — all of these beloved TV and movie stars are actually the title characters of classic works of children’s literature. Many of these books are longer, chapter books and would make great bedtime reading with your child. So, nix the before-bed TV, and instead curl up with one of these great books!

By incorporating reading in fun ways into your kid’s everyday life, you’re sure to raise a little literary lover. Next thing you know, your child will be ready to dig into the great literary classics — so you’d better study up on those yourself!

For more tips on making reading fun for kids, be sure to check out 8 Ways to Inspire a Love of Reading.

Photo Credit: Sarah M.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, Media and Children

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Sarah is a yoga practicing, mostly vegan, coffee chugging, Jack White-loving, stay-at-home-mom to three kids 4 and under in Cincinnati, Ohio. In her free time, she does freelance work for Cincinnati Parent, Dayton Parent and Indy's Child, and blogs about her adventures with three kids in the Queen City.

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