There’s no getting around it, reading is a skill we all need to in order to be active, knowledgeable, and educated citizens of the world. We can try any number of strategies for teaching reading, but none of those beats curling up with our children and reading, reading, and reading—showing them firsthand how enjoyable it can be to read a book.
- Read to them when they are babies and can’t understand a word you are saying.
- Read with them as they grow up.
- Continue to read with them and in their presence throughout their entire lives.
It cannot be stated enough that children learn what they live, and if we live a life where reading is a priority, our children will as well.
“The simplest way to make sure we raise literate children is to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.” Neil Gaiman
Inspire the Love of Reading with Reading Forts
Sometimes, however, we run across days when our children seem to lose interest in reading. Perhaps they were given a new toy or a video game for a holiday or birthday, or perhaps the sun is shining and going out to play seems better to them than curling up to read. It happens. I’m an avid reader and there are days when I just don’t want to read. Why would it not be the same for my child?
As homeschoolers, we have the freedom to have fun with learning. Our children don’t have to sit at a desk, so really, we can make learning an adventure every day. One of my favorite things to help make reading fun for my daughter is to let her build a reading fort. You remember the blanket forts you built as a child? They can be fantastic places for reading.
Encourage your children to design their own reading fort. Let their imaginations go wild and help them find or make the resources they need to bring their ideas to life. If they like, they can make the fort to go along with the setting in the books you’re reading for history.
- Reading about pirates? Add a Jolly Roger flag to the top of your blanket fort.
- Reading about the wild west? Make your reading fort like a teepee.
You can use any number of things to build it, from blankets, to real tents in the backyard, to large cardboard boxes.
How to Build a Constellation Reading Fort
When we recently had a new chair delivered, I saved the box. (Please tell me I’m not the only homeschooling mom who saves random things like this on a just-in-case basis. It drives my husband a little nuts, but it paid off, because soon after, my daughter had an idea to build a box fort.) I dragged the box from the garage into our kitchen and let her imagination go wild. She loves constellations, and after researching and finding her favorite ones, she went to work building her constellation reading fort.
Constellation formations: I had my daughter research these, draw them out, and write down the names. Depending on your child’s age, your help may be needed
Optional: paint, markers, crayons, or other embellishments to decorate the inside or outside of the box
Have your child draw circles on the box to indicate where holes are needed for the stars in the constellation. Make sure they are spaced at least 3” apart so they are easy to see inside the box after you insert the holiday lights. Use the pencil or dowel to poke holes through the box. Insert a holiday light through each of the holes in the box from the outside so only the constellation shines through on the inside. We did a constellation on three sides of the box and labeled them with the constellation name.
You can also randomly place the lights if the idea of forming constellations doesn't appeal to your child. Let your child take ownership of his reading fort and make it his own. He’s far more likely to use it that way.
Equip the Reading Fort
Encourage your child to fill the reading fort with anything he needs to make it a cozy spot. My daughter added blankets, a stuffed toy, pillows, a snack, and a bottle of water. She doesn’t just read in there, she plays, uses her tablet, and just hangs out in there.
Be sure to join them for a good read and a snuggle!
You can build a reading fort anywhere and from different types of materials. Last summer, my daughter built one under our hammock on the deck. If you have a tent, put it up in the yard and make it super cozy for reading and playing. By letting reading be part of the play, it will seem less like work for our children. They will come to associate reading with their happiest childhood memories and really, that’s what what it’s all about.
About the Author
Resa Brandenburg is a former teacher who is now passionate about unschooling her daughter. She lives with her husband in an old farmhouse by the river in Kentucky. Her favorite thing to do is spend the afternoon with her family, including her grown sons and two grandchildren. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and quilting.