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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Mrs. Brinker shares how to make reading fun for kids

About one in four American kids read for fun, according to a recent survey.

GREENWOOD, Ind. — The National Literacy Trust published research earlier this year that found only 26 percent of kids under the age of 18 spend time reading for pleasure each day. This number represented a decline from years past, and 13News Education Expert Jennifer Brinker shared some advice for parents to increase a child’s love of literacy with fun family nights.

In the video player above, you can watch what Mrs. Brinker discussed with me on 13Sunrise on Sunday to make reading more fun:

Dustin Grove - What are the benefits of literacy and reading for pleasure?

Mrs. Brinker - There are probably too many benefits to even name. Kids who read develop stronger vocabulary and writing skills. They have stronger comprehension skills, are better problem solvers, have stronger empathy for others. The list can go on and on, but I would say the important thing to know is that they not only benefit in school, but benefit socially and emotionally as well.

Dustin Grove - So how do we make it fun for kids?

Mrs. Brinker -  There are things that you can do with readers at each age level to help. It is important to start early, even reading to your infant has very strong benefits. As they grow, I think it is a great idea to include activities along with your reading to have an immersive experience.

Dustin Grove - Give me an example of one way to draw in young readers.

Mrs. Brinker -  I will use Eric Carle books because they are so well known and so well loved. You can take the book "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?" and look up the animals from the story online or get some inexpensive dollar store animals for them to play with as you read. You can read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to your toddler and have them snack on the types of foods mentioned in the story. Anything that helps little ones make the connection between the book being read and real life will help.

Dustin Grove - What about kids that might be past the Eric Carle phase?

Mrs. Brinker -  I am a huge fan of family movie nights and there are a lot of not only movies based on books, but sometimes even some books based on the movies. With the holidays coming up, I would encourage parents to check out some holiday books like "Home Alone" or "Elf" that are based on those great movies. You can have some pizza or make some mac and cheese just like Kevin McCalister and watch the movie after you have read the book. I doubt anyone would want spaghetti with maple syrup, but maybe one of those things while you watch "Elf" would be fun, too.  

Dustin Grove - What about chapter books that might take a little longer to read?

Mrs. Brinker - I am a big believer of reading out loud to your kids even when they get a bit older. The same concept of reading and then tying the book in with food or a movie works with tons of books. Take books like "Holes," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," or ‘Because of Winn-Dixie." You can read the book together as a family and then watch the movie while you snack on peaches for "Holes" or some Gobstoppers for "Willy Wonka," or egg salad sandwiches for "Because of Winn-Dixie." You get the idea. You can really make it into a fun family event.

Dustin Grove - I love that idea. It makes it fun for the kids and "tricks" them into learning a bit.

Mrs. Brinker -  It does, and I would still sneak some learning in there. After the movie, ask them about what was like the book and what was different from it. You are sneaking in some comparing and contrasting to get those wheels turning, and you are making it fun at the same time.