32 million adults living in the U.S. can’t read. And that’s not just a troubling fact on its own. Studies show that literacy rates are directly connected to violence and crime.
85% of all juveniles who interact with the juvenile court system are illiterate. Not only is literacy important for academics, but it is also essential to keeping young people out of trouble.
Read on for 6 fun reading games you can use in your school to make even reluctant readers enjoy learning how to read.
Sight Word Bingo
Sight words are commonly used words that students must visually memorize to make reading easier. Some examples are has, said, and was. These words can’t be sounded out because their sound when pronounced doesn’t match their letters.
Sight words appear in almost any text you read and are abundant in the reading material commonly used in schools at an early age.
For new readers, these words can be daunting to learn. But if you use fun reading games to teach and reinforce these them, students will easily recognize sight words when they appear in their books.
Who doesn’t love a game of bingo? If you can offer a small prize to the first person to get bingo, even better.
To play this game with sight words, give each child a grid with the sight words you’re teaching. Then, hold up a flash card with a word and have the students look for it on their card.
They can cover it with a bingo dabber or a token. If you want to make it more challenging, say the word instead of holding up the flash card. That way, students must read their card to figure out the word you said.
Pretty soon, they will have mastered all the sight words that they need to make reading more fluid.
Sight Word Boom
This game works best one-on-one. All you need is a plastic bag or box with printouts of all the sight words your class is working on. Include a few cards that say BOOM on them.
Have the student pull out a word and read it. If they get it right, great. If not, put it back in the bag.
Booms are like strikes. Choose how many booms a student can get before the game is over. Three booms usually works well with less than 20 sight words. If a student pronounces all the sight words correctly without pulling out 3 booms, he or she wins!
This simple game is a lot of fun for kids. Make sure to say boom nice and loud to make the game even more exciting!
Searching for Syllables
This game will make reading enjoyable for even the most reluctant readers. It’s kind of like a treasure hunt.
Ask students to fold a sheet of paper so that there are 3 columns. Have them write 1, 2, 3 along the top of each. Older students can divide their page into 4, 5, or 6 columns.
Next, give students a paragraph or page of text. Ask them to fill up their columns with words from the text that have 1, 2, or 3 syllables. The student who places the most words in the correct column wins!
Ideally, you would select text from a book the whole class has read. Then, use kid-friendly book discussion prompts to turn the game into a book discussion. Keep in mind that these games don’t always need to be a contest; they can all be arranged to have many winners.
Give each student a copy of the same printed text. It can be a paragraph or a page.
Write four words on the board. Three of the words should be in the text. One word must not appear in the text.
Have students skim the text, looking for the four words. As soon as students know which word doesn’t appear in the text, they should write it on the top of their paper.
This game helps build reading (and skimming) skills in young readers.
Change One Word
Some of the best reading games for kids are ones that make them laugh. In this game, the silliest sentence wins!
Write a sentence on the board. Pick a student to change one word in the sentence. That student will then write out the new word on the board.
Then the next student comes up and changes one word. Keep track of all the ways the sentence changes as the students go. At the end, have the class vote on the best, funniest, silliest sentence.
This simply game uses spelling and reading as they play.
Concentration is a great game that can be easily adapted to any learning level to make reading fun.
Use 5-10 words from a book the students are reading (or from their sight words list). Make pairs of each word on index cards.
Have students take turns flipping two cards to try to make a matching pair. Make sure the child who selects the cards reads both words out.
Play until all the cards are matched. Make sure to choose level-appropriate words. You don’t want to overwhelm students with too many difficult options.
Also, if a child doesn’t know a word, tell him or her what it is. This game is meant to build word recognition and memory. They don’t need to sound it out at this point.
Instead of matching two identical cards with the same word, you can also use rhyming pairs such as pig and wig.
Or you can make cards that build sound recognition skills for younger readers. For example, they could try to find words that both have a short “a” sound. Or paste a picture of a house on one card and the letter “h” on another card.
Fun Reading Games Make Learning Easier
We hope you find these fun reading games helpful and enjoyable for your classroom.
Never underestimate the power of positive association in young readers. If they have fun when reading, they’re more likely to develop a lasting passion for learning.
Check out all our supplemental reading materials you can use to keep your students engaged while reading.