Playing with Stories: Using Books to Inspire Play
Books helped me discover my playful side, a side that once didn't come naturally. To be perfectly honest, not only did I not feel playful but I also had postpartum depression.
So I did what I always do when I need inspiration: I turned to books. And since I had a child, I of course turned to children's books and I read them out loud to my daughter. To my surprise I found that reading children's books aloud sparked my playfulness! At first it was just the way I read aloud-in a playful manner, reading silly books and enjoying my daughter’s response.
Over time I began to use each book as a jumping off point, a path to more play and learning with my daughter. The books inspired ideas for playful activities such as art, crafts, dress-up, doll play, playdough, puppets, scavenger hunts, science experiments, stamping, and storytelling boards. Here are some ways I'ver used books for play with children. You can try these or come up with your own.
Books and play activities
Color and Counting Books
Favorite titles: Ten Little Fish by Audrey Wood and Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley
Play activities: counting objects around the house, crafts, playdough, stamping
More ideas: 10 rubber duckies from Mommy and Me Book Club
Favorite titles: any book by Sandra Boynton
Play activities: crafts, playdough, puppets, storytelling board
More ideas: Puppets for storytelling from The Good Long Road and Hush from The Good Long Road
Favorite titles: In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming and Birds by Kevin Henkes
Play activities: crafts, scavenger hunts, science experiments
More ideas: Natural ice boats on Reading Confetti
Favorite titles: Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems and Will You Be My Friend by Peter Brown
Play activities: crafts, dress-up, playdough, puppets
More ideas: Clothes for a naked mole rat from Coffee Cups and Crayons
Favorite titles: Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty and Even Firefighters Go to the Potty by Wendy Wax and Naomi Wax
Play activities: crafts, dress-up, dolls, puppets
More ideas: Astronaut play from Imagination Soup and Cowgirl/cowboy fun from Imagination Soup
Favorite titles: Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann and Chalk by Bill Thomson
Play activities: puppets, play scenes, paper dolls, play kits
More ideas: Tea with a tiger from Rainy Day Mum and Harry Potter time from Imagination Soup
I broke up the long days at home with my babies with regular trips to the library. We became regulars at several different library story times. Each visit meant more books to read at home. Each book meant more ideas for play.
In the same way, you can add to your book collection with trips to the library. Find lots of different types of books. Perhaps start with the titles listed above. Then, as you read with your child, keep play in mind. What playful activity will you do after you finish reading each book?
Melissa Taylor is a teacher, mom, freelance writer, blogger at Imagination Soup, and author of Book Love: Help Your Child Grow From Reluctant to Enthusiastic Reader.