How To Read More as A Family (Plus 3 Free Stories!)

Did you know that March is National Reading Month? Not only is reading one of the most important skills that we use in daily life, it’s also incredibly enriching and fun!  Studies show that there are real benefits to regular pleasure reading. People who love to read do better academically and have better-developed senses of empathy. They’re even less likely than the general population to struggle with stress and depression!

You might find, however, that getting your family to read for pleasure is easier said than done. Whether your kids are reluctant readers, your schedule is super busy, or schoolwork gets in the way of recreational, we have some ideas to bring more books into your lives this March! (And stick around for the end of this article, because we’re sharing 3 free stories!)

For families on the go: listen to a book!

Is your family constantly traveling from activity to activity? Whether you’re constantly chauffeuring kids to sports and afterschool activities or your family are always piling into the car for road trips and family outings, you just might not have time to sit around and read. That’s where audiobooks come in handy. You can play them in the car to and from school and activities, on errands, while traveling for vacation, anytime! Experiment with different genres to find something that appeals to the whole family. (Some families we know enjoy listening to book series like the Percy Jackson books or A Series of Unfortunate Events.)

At first, you might not think your kids are paying much attention, playing on their phones the whole time. But when you finish your audiobook, they may just ask you for the sequel! Keep the family engaged by talking about the books when you’re no longer on the road: “Wow, were you expecting him to be the bad guy? I didn’t see it coming.” “Who’s your favorite character so far? I really like the best friend.”

For hobby-loving families: try nonfiction!

When you think about ‘reading for pleasure,’ you probably assume that means fiction. Nonfiction has an unfair reputation for being boring and dull. But there’s nothing boring and dull about reading about something you love! There’s nothing wrong with preferring sports, arts and crafts, or hiking to reading– reading isn’t everyone’s favorite hobby. But you can also read a book or article about those subjects!

Take the family to the library and comb the shelves for age-appropriate nonfiction books that may ignite their interest. Check out beautiful books full of glossy photos of animals for a child who loves ponies or dolphins or tigers; or cook your way through a cookbook with a child who has a burgeoning love of baking. You’ll find travel guides to help plan fun upcoming trips or outings, craft books that your family can use to make things together, or even quirky books on topics of interest like world records and unsolved mysteries. Remember, reading recipes or sports stats is still reading!

For families short on time: go short!

Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to reading. You don’t need to lug around giant tomes to be a serious reader. If you find yourself short on time for pleasure reading, why not read something short? School are starting to recognize the benefits of short stories and making them a more major part of school curricula. They’re also a fantastic way to read for pleasure. You can check out anthologies of short stories (you can even find ones with subject matter like retold fairy tales, sci-fi stories, tales about dragons, etc.) or read magazines for your daily dose of short fiction.

Cricket Media publishes award-winning magazines for kids of all ages. Three Cricket publications, LADYBUG (ages 3-6), SPIDER (ages 6-9), and CRICKET (ages 9-14), are packed with short stories for all levels of interest. You’ll find folktales, fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, realistic fiction, humor, and even more! Cricket Media also publishes magazines about STEM topics, history, and world cultures for kids who are more interested in nonfiction.

For reluctant readers: try a new format!

We touched on this above, but you don’t need to read books to be a reader. Graphic novels are a fantastic way to appeal to people who aren’t big readers. Some of the best new fiction published these days comes in the format of a graphic novel, and having pictures to aid the storytelling can draw in even the most reluctant readers.

Experiment with a few other different formats for reading and see if any of these appeal to you or your kids.

  • Ebook
  • Graphic novel or comic book
  • Magazine
  • Blog or online articles
  • Audiobook
  • Book of poetry
  • Play/screenplay
  • Anthology of short stories
  • Cookbook or how-to book

For families who need to unplug: go camping!

This one may be a little extreme, but hear us out. We’re offering both complex and easy versions of this suggestion, so it may just fit all families. If you and your family struggle to unplug from your devices, you may want to try going for a weekend ‘camping trip’ (either real or pretend) that’s all about relaxing and reading.

Complex version: Actually go for a camping trip at a campground or park. Without wifi or a TV, you can focus on reading in your cozy tent or cabin. And you can gather around the campfire to read out loud to the whole family! Sometimes it takes a peaceful outing like this to reignite the whole family’s love of reading.

Easy version: Set up a pretend campsite at home, whether in your backyard or in the living room! Bring out sleeping bags, either set up a real tent or a blanket fort, turn off all the lights, play a playlist of nature sounds, turn on flashlights, and provide everyone’s favorite snacks. Then, settle in to read– or listen to a parent read out loud. Many kids think they’re too old to be read to, but it can be fun for all ages, especially in a pretend camp out.

Read these free stories!

To jumpstart your family’s March reading adventure, we’re sharing 3 short stories from the March issues of CRICKET Media Magazines. Feel free to download and/or print them out to share with your family!

Something Strange in Grandpa’s Woodsfrom LADYBUG Magazine (ages 3-6): In this child-sized adventure, a girl explores the natural world with her encouraging grandfather and learns about the life cycle of wood frogs. By Jane Dauster with art by Tiffany Everett.

“Galileo” from SPIDER Magazine” (ages 6-9): Aboard their spaceship, a girl and her half-cat and half-dog pet find a supernatural worm. They set off to close up the worm’s wormhole before utter destruction ensues. By EJ Delaney with art by Shannon Day.

“The Glassmaker” from CRICKET Magazine (ages 9-14): A young apprentice to a glassmaker in Venice foils a plot to steal the secrets of Venetian glass. By Carissa Sumner with art by Lucia Sforza.