Encourage reading...by not reading! (plus a GIVEAWAY!)

One of my most popular posts by far was this one, a blog post about encouraging reading in reluctant pre-readers. I absolutely LOVE that this post was so popular, and I really hope that the list has helped readers of my blog find a book (or two, or ten!) to help encourage their littles toward a fondness for reading.

But like I said in that post, I definitely understand that not all kids enjoy reading. So, with that in mind, I've put together a list of ways to encourage your kiddos to read, without actually reading. And while that sounds really strange, I am a big fan of doing whatever it takes to get kids engaged in books. Even if that means not reading. :)

How can there be so much adorableness packaged up in one person? It should be impossible. Except it isn't, apparently, because we have Exhibit A, Emily Arrow. What does Emily do? She adapts children's books into songs. But in a way that you've never heard before. It's not Peter, Paul and Mary style, where all of the words in the story are sung (although this Peter, Paul and Mary book IS popular at our house), and it isn't nursery rhymes. It's actual current, popular children's books adapted into song. And she has a YouTube channel. And she adapted my favorite children's book of all time (and was the 2015 Winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for it). AND one lucky reader is going to win a copy of Emily's 2016 album, STORYTIME SINGALONG, VOLUME 1. Just leave me a comment on this post by September 26, 2016 (EXTENDED!) September 30, 2016 to enter (or subscribe to email updates)!

From their site: "One More Story is the online library of the best of children's illustrated books set to music and read aloud to you. Follow Benjamin D. Bookworm, Bendy, through your favorite books, or try the I Can Read It mode to read them yourself." I had some difficulty finding apps that would read aloud to my daughter when I looked; most of the apps out there are either to help kids read on their own (which although admirable, wasn't necessarily what I was going for at age 3) or didn't include any of the more popular titles or authors that we would find in the library or bookstore. While One More Story isn't free (around $50/year), it is a great app that my own little asks for again and again.

Introducing a character via television/movie FIRST can be a fun way to sneak in a little literary magic. If yours are anything like mine, once your little is hooked on a character, they'll want everything they can see/touch/taste/hear to be about said character. So, make the characters literary! Some great options: Julia Donaldson's THE GRUFFALO, Janell Cannon's STELLALUNA, Marie-Louise Gay's STELLA and SAM series, Kate and Jim McMullan's I STINK and I'M DIRTY via Amazon's new series, THE STINKY AND DIRTY SHOW, and (hopefully soon!) Mary Pope Osborne's THE MAGIC TREE HOUSE series. Finding characters at the theater is especially fun, too! There is SO much great children's theater based on kid lit. Two of our favorite stage adaptations: (again) Julia Donaldson's ROOM ON THE BROOM and Mo Willems' ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE'S "We Are In a Play."

Artists all over the world have brought storybook characters to life via sculpture. Visit Robert McCloskey's ducklings (of MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS fame) in Boston's Public Garden, the winged monkeys of L. Frank Baum's THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ in Burlington, Vermont, or seventeen different characters in the Storybook Capital of Texas: Abilene (including Dr. Seuss's Horton).

Sneak in a song from a book between repeat encores of "Let It Go," and you might pique their curiosity! Eric Litwin has some fun choices, both in the Pete the Cat series and his newer series, The Nuts.

And while this is a total cheat to include on this list, you have to learn the Happy Llama, Sad Llama song (complete with hand gestures) if you are going to read ANY of the Llama Llama books by beloved Anna Dewdney.

I'd love to hear if you have any other ideas for encouraging reading by not reading!

Happy (non?) reading!


  1. OMG! I LOVE Emily Arrow! We borrow these cd's all the time from the library, but we'd love to own it! Thanks for hosting amazing giveaway!

    1. Thank YOU! And I love that you borrow it from the library! A girl after my own heart. <3

  2. We love the game "Tell Me a Story." It's basically just cards with different pictures on each. We take turns drawing cards then telling a story from the cards we have. You can play it cooperatively or tell individual stories.

    We've also made our own story stones (Pinterest!) for similar fun.

    Sometimes on a walk or car ride, I'll challenge the family to make an alphabet book before we've reached our destination. We have to name something for each letter of the alphabet, but it has to be things we see right at that moment. Especially challenging for J,Q and X and Z but it encourages some outside the box thinking (a JUMPING dog or a QUICK squirrel).

    1. Ooh, good suggestions, Candy! We love our story cards! We play a sort of alphabet I Spy, where we spy a letter instead of an object. Thanks!!

  3. A great topic! We always need more music in our lives!

    1. Thanks, Brenna! We could always roadtrip the kiddos to Abilene, too! :)