A Little Play Goes a Long Way!

A dog in a pool with a tennis ball in its mouth
Source: agiledogs, Flickr

To kids, play equals fun! For adults, play is an important part of a child's development, including important skills that will help when it's time for children to begin reading on their own. Books are a great way to encourage kids to play.

Try some of these books with your kids and use them to participate in our Summer Learning Challenge, Explore and Roar!

Some books, such as Out of This World and the other books in the Can You See What I See? series, are perfect for playing while you read. These books not only tell stories, but their illustrations are filled with so many objects (including a ton of animals!) that they're perfect for playing a game of I Spy. I Spy can help your child learn concepts ("I spy with my little eye an animal that is yellow.") and letter sounds (I spy with my little eye an animal that begins with C."). You may even be able to find new and unfamiliar objects in the pictures which will give your child an opportunity to learn new words.

Another fun way to encourage play through books is by encouraging kids to act out familiar stories such as the classic The Three Little Pigs. Read the story with your child then ask them to retell it to you while you act it out together or use puppets and other toys to tell the story. Can you and your child act out what happens after the story ends? This kind of dramatic play is perfect for encouraging your child to tell stories and to connect written words to spoken words.

Play is also a great way to encourage kids to exercise their imaginations, just like the animals characters in Not a Box and Not a Stick. These books will inspire kids to use their imaginations to let everyday objects take them on extraordinary adventures. Imaginative play like this is not only fun but can also help support your child's creativity through story telling.

What other books have inspired you and your children to play? What's the most fun play activity a book has ever inspired for your family?