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27 Fun Reading Activities To Try At Home or In The Classroom

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Bird's-eye view of a teacher and five students sitting on the ground during reading activities.

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Learning to read is a huge milestone in a child’s life. We all know how important a love of reading is for future learning. When children love to read, they can learn anything. 

Make sure your children keep the joy of reading alive by using fun reading activities along with traditional reading strategies.

These fun daily moments can improve reading skills and help reluctant readers find joy in the written word. We’ll be covering reading activities by grade level both for the classroom and at home, as well as some activities to improve reading comprehension after your students are reading independently. 

Fun reading activities for the classroom

A teacher reads to a group of young students during reading activities.

Though many children begin the basics of reading at home, most solidify their skills and become accomplished readers in the classroom. These activities keep early readers engaged and improving while helping reluctant readers master the basics. Here are our favorite ways to keep reading fun!

1. Find the secret word

Great for: Kindergarten to 2nd grade

Turn a reading lesson into a scavenger hunt! Give each student or pair of students a piece of text, then speak the first secret word. Once they find it, have them circle it in a specific color, or circle and number, then report back to you for word #2. 

Keep this word search up for as long as you like — we recommend choosing about 8 to 10 words for students to find. It’s one part competition, one part scavenger hunt! Choose a prize for each team to receive when they complete the activity. Or celebrate everyone reaching the end with a classroom dance party! It’s a great way to keep your kids moving and learning.

2. Read aloud as a class

Great for: All grades

Kids are never too old to hear a story read aloud. Reading aloud as a class is a great way to keep kids engrossed in a story. Since you are most familiar with the text, you can keep the flow going during the dramatic moments. Then hand it off to your students to take their turns.

Want to add a new element to your classroom read-aloud? Pass around a ball or stuffed animal to indicate the next reader. It’s a variation of popcorn reading to help minimize reading anxiety, and it gives kids the power to pass it on after spending a short time reading. 

3. Partner reading

Great for: 1st to 3rd grade

Sometimes trying to get the whole class to read together is just too much. To encourage more reading time, pair up your students for partner reading. 

During partner reading, each child will get more time to practice their skills. And being corrected privately by one friend may be better for a struggling reader’s confidence. Try to pair a confident but patient reader with those who need some extra help and watch them both learn to succeed.

4. Find the synonym

Great for: 2nd to 5th grade

Once your readers are feeling more confident, take our scavenger hunt game mentioned above and add a new twist. 

Instead of searching for the exact spoken words on your list, give students the challenge to find the word’s synonym in the text. It’s a great way to keep the game challenging for older students.

5. Word searches

Great for: Kindergarten to 2nd grade

For younger students, a word search is a challenging way to encourage early reading. You can do this much like our scavenger hunt-style games, but instead of saying the words aloud, provide a list. 

They can search for one word at a time, with you providing the next word to the team once the first is found. Or provide a full list from the beginning and let them work individually. Add in some color matching (marking the word in the same color as printed on the list) to keep this game fun and engaging.

6. Keyword bingo

Great for: 1st to 3rd grade

Looking for a calmer alternative to the secret word game? Have each child work individually in a game of reading bingo. Choose a grade-level text and compile a list of words found in the passage. 

Read each word aloud, giving about 15 seconds before moving on to the next. It’s a race against your clock to find the words, or they can try to remember them while looking for the others. When they find the words, they can mark them out. Once the list is done, allow 20 more seconds to wrap up any remaining words, then pencils down and count. Whoever finds the most words, wins!

7. Decoding games

Great for: Kindergarten to 2nd grade

Decoding games focus on letter sounds and phonemic awareness. A favorite game for pre-readers is to say a letter and have students find an object that starts with that letter. As they bring the object back, reinforce the sound that letter makes.

Other decoding games can focus on the mechanics of reading — such as reading a word or sentence from left to right. This is a great time to utilize finger puppets, following along with a finger as you sound the words out together.

8. Thumbs up, thumbs down

Great for: Kindergarten to 5th grade

Thumbs up, thumbs down (or the higher energy variation — stand up, sit down) is a great game to keep your students engaged. 

Check reading comprehension when you ask students to give a thumbs up if a statement about a recently read story is true, or a thumbs down if it’s false. Help them grasp grammar concepts by having them stand up when you say an adjective word or sit down if you say a noun. 

It’s a fun way to keep their bodies and brains working. 

9. Discover the missing letter

Great for: Kindergarten to 2nd grade

When you’re teaching letter sounds, it’s fun to get creative. In this game, you’ll call your students to the front of the class by their names — minus the first letter. For example, Stacy becomes tacy and Roland becomes oland. Let the kids guess who you’re calling up, then have them decode the missing letter. 

You can do the same thing for objects, or drop middle letters for older children. Just be sure to prepare your words ahead of time to avoid any slip-ups!  

10. Guided reading ball game

Great for: 2nd to 7th grade

Grab a few beach balls from your local dollar store and get your classroom moving. Take a sharpie and write a discussion prompt on each colorful section of the ball. What is the setting? Who is the main character? What happened after…? 

Toss or roll the balls around. Students answer whichever question their thumb lands on when the ball heads their way. This is an exciting way to mix things up, practice reading comprehension and get kids thinking outside of their seats.

Reading activities for parents & children

A mother and child sit on the couch and do reading activities together.

Not all reading happens in the classroom! Parents can play an active role in helping their children learn to read. Here are a few activities to try with your kids.

1. Reading together

Great for: All grades and ages

There’s something special about listening to a book being read out loud. It can capture your attention in a unique way. Whether your child is a baby or fully grown, it’s always a good time to read together.

Take turns reading chapters from a favorite story, or just read to your child. Enjoying good stories is a huge motivator in learning to read.  

2. Silly voices reading

Great for: Kindergarten to 4th grade

Kids love to laugh and joke, so play into this with a crazy story and silly voices. Get really high-pitched, speed it up like a chipmunk, and then pitch your voice low. 

Your kids will love seeing these stories come to life with your words, and you’ll all share a good laugh. To get them involved in the fun, ask them to do their own silly voice!

3. Dialogic reading

Great for: Kindergarten to 2nd grade

The word dialogic means to have a dialogue, and that’s exactly what this activity is designed to do. Instead of reading to your child while they passively listen, invite them into the story. Ask them what they think may happen next, or at the close of the book invite them to create a completely different ending. This is a great way to stretch your little storyteller’s imagination.

4. Reading outside

Great for: Kindergarten to 2nd grade

Kids thrive outdoors. They can run, climb, and dig in the dirt. Outside is also a great place to practice reading and letter writing. Invite your child to help you create words in a sandbox or take a stick and dig a letter into the dirt. 

Older kids can simply take their reading outside. It’s amazing how refreshing a change of setting can be. 

5. What word starts with…

Great for: Kindergarten to 1st grade

Letter sounds are an essential early reading tool. With this game, ask your child to think of words that start with “B” (or any other letter).

 Give an example, like b-b-butterfly, then think of more “B” words together. Choose your child’s favorite things to keep the game fun and exciting. Early readers especially love to talk about the letters in their names.

6. Try nonfiction

Great for: All ages

You never know what a child may love to read. Though many kids enjoy a good princess or dragon story, others will prefer non-fiction books. 

If your attempts at fiction are met with indifference, try a book about their favorite animal (sharks, dinosaurs, or lemurs are popular here), learn about space or strange weather events. Whatever your child is into, and whatever their reading level, there’s a book for them.

7. Create a “book nook”

Great for: All ages

A cozy spot dedicated to reading can add joy to the activity. Load up a corner or top bunk space with comfy pillows and blankets, make sure it has good lighting, and include some sticky notes and a dictionary. All your child needs to bring is their favorite book! Even better, snuggle in together and discover a new favorite with your child.

8. Who’s coming over?

Great for: Kindergarten to 5th grade

This game can be played in a couple of different ways, and both are great for reading comprehension. First, try giving clues so your child can guess their favorite characters. These favorites can be from books or TV. You can mention physical characteristics, some of their best friends, or things that happen to them. Keep giving clues until they guess correctly.

The second way to play is to invite a favorite character over and then discuss what you’ll need for their visit. A special kind of bed, their favorite foods, or a place for their pet to stay are all things to consider. This is a fun way to create your own story around your child’s favorite characters.

9. Take turns reading

Great for: Kindergarten to 4th grade

As your child begins to read you can invite them to read to you. Don’t push if they don’t want to, but as their confidence builds they’ll be excited to share their new skill with you. 

This may look like you both taking turns reading a new chapter book, or they may want to share all the creature descriptions from their favorite new computer game. No matter the topic, do your best to listen intently and congratulate them on their reading skills.  

10. What happens next?

Great for: Kindergarten to 4th grade

Keep reading fun and active when you step outside the book and asking your child what happens next:

  • What do they think will happen?
  • What would you like to see happen? 
  • What’s something funny that could happen?

Any question that gets them thinking through the story on their own is both fun and helpful for reading comprehension. 

11. Talk about the pictures

Great for: Kindergarten to 2nd grade

Pictures are a great way for kids to follow along with a story. When your child is beginning to read, have them look at the pictures and ask what they think is going on. As they unravel the story, point out the words they are discovering in the text. Or just let them enjoy creating their own unique version of the story based on the pictures. 

12. Try new reading apps and websites

Great for: All ages

There are some amazing reading apps for both reading instruction and digital reading libraries. If your child enjoys spending time on their tablet, give some of our favorite reading apps a try and watch them learn while they play.

Activities to try after reading

Close-up picture of a child reading a book.

After your child is reading on their own, there’s still plenty to learn. Reading isn’t effective if they’re struggling to understand the words on the page, or how they all fit together to create the story. Here are a few activities for children to practice reading comprehension.

1. Summarize the text

Great for: All ages

Once a child is done reading a text or section of a book, have them revisit the main ideas by highlighting or taking notes on the text’s biggest themes. Once students identify the main themes, ask them to break them down further and quickly summarize the story.

2. Book reports

Great for: 2nd to 12th grade

Book reports are a classic reading activity. Have the child analyze the book, highlighting the most important themes. Older children can present arguments pertaining to the story, and provide passages to support their theories. 

Keep book reports even more engaging when you invite kids to give a presentation, complete with dress-up and drama. 

3. Review the book

Great for: 2nd to 12th grade

Ask children to rate their most recent reading. They can assign it a number of stars, but then they must also explain why. Was it too scary? Not funny? What were their favorite parts? What would they do differently?

Not only does this help students think critically about what they’ve just read, but it can also help parents and teacher identify what they might like reading next.

4. Extend the story

Great for: Kindergarten to 12th grade

“And they lived happily ever after…”

Maybe so, but what happened next? Ask your child to keep the story going. Where do they go next? Who do they meet? Favorite characters can continue adventuring when your child takes over the story. This is a great writing prompt, or just a fun dinner conversation!

5. How could it have been better?

Great for: All ages

Everyone has an opinion, so ask your child for theirs. How could this book or story have been better? Would a different ending be more fun? Or maybe they just think the main character should be named after them. 

No matter their critique, listen and discuss. Then encourage them to create their own tale.

How reading activities help kids embrace learning

Reading keeps kids learning for the rest of their lives. When a child can read, they can take more control over their education. And that’s a wonderful thing!

Fun activities are the best way to keep a child interested in the world of books. Learning to read can be a frustrating journey for some. Others may simply find it boring (especially if they’re being made to read about topics they care little about). These activities are designed to get kids moving and thinking beyond the page. Because when reading is fun, learning happens naturally.

Other educational activities to help kids learn

Young girl writes using a paper and pencil during educational activities.

When teaching starts to feel like a drag, or the kids are fighting their instruction, revisit this article. Mix in some fun activities and keep the learning going. Getting up, moving around, or enjoying a laugh together can help stimulate everyone’s mind. 

Looking for even more great learning activities to engage your kids? Here are some of our favorite activity posts for reading, math, and more!

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