Over the weekend I received contributor’s copies of the Sports Illustrated for Kids 2009 Year in Sports and Alaska’s Puzzle Bears.
When we discuss ways to instill a love of reading in kids, one of the recommendations is to give kids freedom to choose what they want to read. Graphic novels, comic books, Captain Underpants, and Gossip Girls are okay. I’d like to add puzzle books to this list.
When you think of encouraging kids to read and improving literacy, do puzzle books come to mind? Probably not–until now.
Puzzles can be a great way to get kids hooked on words and word play. They’re interactive, challenging, fun, and often silly. They can introduce new words, facts, and ideas. They teach kids to be persistent and to look at words and ideas from different angles, to notice relationships between words. They teach kids how to think, not what to think. And solving a puzzle gives kids a sense of accomplishment.
I contend that discovering something by solving a puzzle makes a stronger impression than being told the same thing. Imagine deciphering your spelling words rather than being handed a list and told to learn them.
Puzzles allow kids to manipulate and play with words, to twist them and turn them, get their hands dirty. By playing with them, they learn to appreciate and enjoy them, and they become comfortable with them, whether in another puzzle or an eight-hundred-word novel.