Three young girls standing on a lawn exchanging books

Swap Books with Friends (aka Book Pals), and More Ideas for Encouraging a Love of Reading

Our kiddos have worked tirelessly in pre-reading or reading skills all school year! I’d like to offer a few suggestions for how to keep up the momentum, and perhaps more importantly—to inspire a love of reading.

Read aloud

First, read aloud—no matter your children’s ages! My go-to for book suggestions is Read Aloud Revival’s Book Lists. Cozy up and read, or come up with quiet activities to keep hands busy while you read. [My children enjoy creating with playdough and clay, slime-making, knitting, LEGO building, or exploring sensory bins.]

The goal is to enjoy the reading experience together. Fond memories of reading together will shape a fondness for reading.

Book pals

Here’s my second idea, though I can’t claim it as my own—inspired by the idea of pen pals, my ten-year-old asked her neighbor-friend to be her book pal, meaning they’d swap favorite books and return them after reading. It’s remarkable to watch my daughter’s enthusiasm for reading increase when the book has been highly recommended and shared by a friend!

So, does your son or daughter know anybody on a similar reading level who could be a book pal?

Consider the following:

  • Ideally if your child is a braille-reader, braille books or magazines can be swapped. If you don’t know a braille-reader on a similar reading level as your son or daughter, ask your child’s teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) for suggestions. Or, you can help your child locate another braille reader using social media—sizable Facebook pages exist connecting parents of children who are blind or low vision.
  • Swapping print books can work too. Perhaps your child can share a favorite read-aloud with a sighted or blind/ low vision friend, and the friend can share a favorite book your family can read aloud.
  • Audio books? Sure! Though the books aren’t technically swapped, audio books can still be recommended—and that works too! This is especially beneficial if your son or daughter wants to swap book suggestions with friends or family who live far away, or if a print book is given to your child and he either can’t access the print or the reading level is too advanced.

Keep in mind many of the talking book libraries are either still closed or working on a limited basis; BARD for digital books is currently an option. Additionally, your public library may provide free access to audio books using Hoopla or a similar service.

One last resource

I encourage you to take a peek at FamilyConnect’s blog: Helping Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired Avoid the Summer Reading Slide. It can help you determine how to choose the best books for your child who is blind or low vision. Choosing optimal books and ensuring optimal technology is in place can pave the way for your child to fall in love with reading.

Take care, and happy reading!