Get Your Kids Talking (and thinking!): Here’s How!

When I recently stumbled upon a New York Times article about its 10th annual Summer Reading Contest, I had to write this post. While reading about how The Times encourages teenagers to become interested in its publication by hosting a contest designed to get them interacting with the newspaper, I thought, “Young children can be doing this, too!”

For The Times contest, participants are encouraged to choose any article they read (or video they watch or podcast they listen to) at, and submit a short essay answering two questions: “What interested you most in The Times this week,” and “Why?”

In addition to driving the idea home that reading is essential – even in the summer time (especially in the summer time, right!?) – it’s a contest that encourages teens to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the world and to write about it.

Reading Is Fun! Imagine That! is for much younger audiences, but it’s still a book filled with story-poems that can inspire thought and creativity the same way that the articles have in The New York Times. Many of my blog posts offer ways for parents to connect with their kids through reading my story-poems and writing about them, but I now suggest this: Read a story-poem from my book, any one at all, and ask your children these two simple questions:

  • What interested you the most in this story-poem?
  • Why (did it interest you so much)?

Different children with varied minds and ideas and ways of thinking will surely have unique answers every time. The story-poem about making stained glass might pique the interest of one young reader (maybe they love colors and can visualize rainbow-colored stained glass while reading it,) while another child might love it simply for the opportunity it gives to use their hands and craft their own stained glass.

While having your child explore Reading Is Fun! Imagine That!, just let them talk about the story-poems and express themselves verbally. And just as The Times did, don’t stick to only the written word. Show your children videos and listen to podcasts with them as well. Listen to your favorite songs and watch your favorite movies together.

When the song is over, the story is told, or the movie has ended, ask the two questions above, and see where the conversation leads. As The Times article points out: “Though our goals include some on many educators’ lists — helping students become more aware of the world and their place in it, learning how to navigate sophisticated nonfiction, and practicing writing for a real audience — we also just hope that students will realize that reading the newspaper can be fun.”

And isn’t that the point of reading, to have fun? I absolutely think so…so much so that I made sure the title of my book included the word Fun! So, please, open it up, and have some!





Join our mailing list and receive a FREE excerpt from the book!



She would like to see them in all of California’s elementary schools.

-Rosaline Turnbull Past President of the California Parent Teacher’s Association

Yours is a comforting voice during a challenging time. Your stories are charming. Each one is uniquely warm and inspiring, and the messages are uplifting for children and parents alike. The books deserve to be in homes across the country — and the world. They remind me of one of my all-time heroes:  Mr. Rogers!  They are kind, nurturing, and so encouraging.

-Tom Soma Former Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities

I think these books are perfect for children. They are colorful, bright, and the illustrations are awesome. I regret there were no such books in my childhood.

-Ludmila Levine Chairman of the American English Department

They are fun to read. Both the writings and drawings are original. They are amazing.  There are so many things that could be learned. One student commented she was also learning about American culture.

-YiLing Chen Taught Women English

practical, playful, serious, affectionate, enigmatic, and varied.

-Claudine DeFaye Former Professor

These books are absolutely incredible. An excellent job of inspiring children’s creativity activities.

-Mosun Johnston Smith Former Teacher

The detail and care you’ve put in these stories is remarkable. I celebrated the wonderful wisdom those students reflected to me while reading your books.

-Andie Cunningham Instructor