Reading group activities to keep kids coming back for more
Here are some activities you could offer during a reading club session. You do not need to do all of them each time the reading club meets. Most reading clubs with several children and some volunteers like to do some activities – like games and songs, reading aloud and storytelling – in every session. Choose from the other activities depending on how they link with the books and stories you are sharing with the children and how much time you have available. Changing some of the activities each week will help to keep each of your reading club sessions fresh and interesting and encourage the children to attend regularly!
If your group is made up of just one or two adults and a small group of children, or is a self-run teenage club, you may just choose to read and talk about books together.
- Games and songs: Children learn easily and comfortably when they play, and these are fun ways to start a session. Think about games and songs that you used to play and sing as a child and teach these to the children. You can also ask older children to teach all of you a game that they know or have made up! Sing some songs in the home languages of all the children in the reading club. Find others to help children learn English or another language.
- Reading aloud and storytelling: Ideally, all sessions should include reading aloud and storytelling. Children learn about how stories work and how to read from listening to stories being read and told to them. Click here to find more information on reading aloud and telling stories.
- Shared reading: Spending time sharing books in pairs or small groups allows children to select and share books they are interested in. Children who are able to read independently, can read books together in small groups or pairs. They can also read simpler books to other children in the club who are still learning to read. Join in by letting a child read to you or by reading to a small group of children. Shared reading offers wonderful opportunities for children to learn from each other as well as from the adults who read with them.
- Silent or independent reading: Allow some time for children to look at and read books on their own. Children who can already read often like to spend time alone with a book, reading silently. Silent reading is important because it extends children’s ability as readers. Children who are still learning to read enjoy looking at picture books and telling their own story that goes with the pictures. They also like to recite the actual words of a familiar story. Although this looks like they are just having fun with books, they are also developing essential reading skills like using pictures to give you a clue to what the words on the page say.
- Writing: Give children opportunities to write for real reasons. Rhymes, songs and games can all be written down and read as shared activities. The children can make their own books that they can read themselves and then share with others. Let them keep journals in which they write about books that they have read and provide opportunities for them to write letters and make greeting cards to friends and family. During writing activities, help children who are still learning to read and write by writing down the words that they say. This helps them to discover the link between spoken and written language.
- Talking about books: Spend some time introducing reading club members to books that you have at your club. Show the books to the children and tell them a little about each one. Afterwards, remember to display the books well so that children can find them easily.
- Art, craft and drama: Extend a story you have read or told by encouraging the children to paint or draw pictures, make puppets or other objects related to the story. Or, allow time for the children to act out the story.
Click here to download your Nal’ibali quick guide to successful reading club sessions (available in English, Afrikaans, isiZulu and isiXhosa).