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Playing with Stories: Using Books to Inspire Play

on Mon, 03/07/2016 - 12:07

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
  • Nature Books
    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
  • Silly Books
    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

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 writerblogger at Imagination Soup, and author of Book Love: Help Your Child Grow From Reluctant to Enthusiastic Reader



It's funny to think about how we each find out about playful side when we have babies.  I remember singing loudly as I walked my baby in his stroller and being suprised when I passed a policeman who told me to "keep your day job."  I am NOT a good singer and would never go around singing out loud but did this with my children - it was fun and funny to sing to them and they liked it even though I had a terrible voice.  

Thanks for including our puppets post and for so many great resources on using books. You are everywhere and always on point, Melissa!

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