Featured Team Member – Literary Activity to Encourage Reading

Looking for literary activities to keep your kids reading? Need a new strategy for your reluctant reader? KidLit TV’s team member Sarah Shipley gives tips on encouraging your kids to read and step-by-step instructions for making a Bookworm. Sarah shares a simple hands-on activity for creating visual motivators for readers. Don’t miss her interview below on her adventures in homeschooling!

Sarah is a writer, teacher and homeschooling mom. She uses her skills to curate exciting and current content for the KidLit TV website. Sarah is a member of Eugene Writers Anonymous and has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul as well as multiple parenting magazines both online and in print. In her free time she likes to jump back and forth between writing YA sci-fi and children’s fantasy novels.

How to Make Your Family a “Book Family”

We know that Sarah’s kids read above their grade levels and are avid readers. We asked her what her tips and tricks are to getting her kids excited about reading and she gave us insights on their family culture and step-by-step instructions for very cool motivational craft.

My friends have asked me how I got my kids reading at such a young age and how I keep them excited about books. Well, I will tell you!

My family is a book family and this didn’t happen by accident. I plotted and planned to have a book family from the time I started thinking about having kids. It probably didn’t hurt that I came from a book family too. Between my mom’s love of literature and my aunt Cindy’s frequent book gifts, my childhood was surrounded by the written word.

The key to developing a book family culture in your home is to make books a part of your everyday activities. As soon as my first child was born she was exposed to baskets and shelves of board books. We read together often and made books of her artwork. However, the one thing that has kept all my kids hooked on books is a fun paper friend we like to call the Bookworm.

So who is this Bookworm and where did I find him? Well, let me tell you! He is a way for kids to set reading goals, he is super easy to make, can work for almost any age and takes up only the wall space you allow him to.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

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You can make a Bookworm with just a few simple supplies.


  • A packet of construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • A marker
  • A cup or another object to trace to create a circle

Step 2: Trace and Decorate

Trace the glass onto the construction paper to make a circle. Decorate the first circle with a smiling face and even antennae if you would like and tape it to the wall. This will be the start of your very own Bookworm. Cut out several more circles, the same way you did for the head. These will be the body segments but don’t put them on the wall yet, they have to be earned. The body segments are going to be earned in different ways depending on the age and reading level of your child.

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Making your Bookworm body segments are simple. Just use a jar as a tracing template!

Step 3: Set Goals & Rewards

Now it is time to set a goal. Goal ideas could include:

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Start adding in segments as your child works toward goals.


Whatever goal you and your child decide on make sure to do it in advance and offer a reward (my kids like to go out for ice-cream) for when you reach your goal.

Step 4: Add Segments to Bookworm

Every time your child reads a chapter book, picture book, or identifies a letter/letter sound, write the accomplishment on a body segment and tape it to the wall next to the head of Mr. Bookworm. This creates a train of body segments as the child reads or demonstrates knowledge of letters. My kids have had bookworms that travel around windows, weave back and forth all over the wall or even crawl across the ceiling. It is best to have your bookworm somewhere that the child will see it often to encourage more reading.

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Your Bookworm can grow in length to reflect your child’s progress.

There you have it! Easy Peasy, fun and cheesy…this literary activity is sure to be a hit. Your kids will be excited to make their bookworm grow and stretch toward a fun goal and you will relax in the knowledge that you’re creating kids who will be hooked on books!

Interview with Sarah Shipley:

We also got an interview with Sarah so you can learn about her work at KidLit TV and as a homeschooling mom!

As a homeschool mom what are some tips you would give parents about starting a homeschooling curriculum? 

The tips I would offer to other homeschooling parents in regards to curriculum is don’t get attached to a certain curriculum. Find what works for your kids and use it. I’ve had friends get so attached to using a curriculum that they don’t want to try something new and both kids and parents end up frustrated. Try several things and find what works. What works might be different for each of your kids… I know it is with my five.

Why did you choose to homeschool your kids?

I chose to homeschool my children because I wanted to instill a love of learning in them. For them to find passion in knowledge and to strive for their dreams. I also wanted my children to be able to learn at their own pace and to not be held back or get rushed along with the masses.

What are some of the perks of homeschooling? What are some of the disadvantages?

The perks of homeschooling are many. Pretty much everyone has heard that if you homeschool you can go to school in your pjs. If that’s not a perk I don’t know what is. Another perk is that we as a family have more time for outdoor adventures and extracurricular activities such as sports volunteering and Japanese tutors. The disadvantages for us are minimal. I would say that cost could be considered a disadvantage as well as a messy house. I try to keep a clean house but there is usually some craft project going on somewhere. People often ask me if socialization is a disadvantage of homeschooling and I cannot say “no” enough. I think people assume that if you do your school at home you are cooped up in your house all day. I can’t speak for all homeschoolers out there but we spend a great amount of time in the community. We are part of homeschooling groups, we are involved in community services and many classes outside the home. I like to think my kids have an advantage in their social skills because they interact with all sorts of people of all ages without social conformity pressure.

How can you get local teachers involved with homeschooling?

In our area you can get involved with up to three classes at the mainstream public school and still keep your homeschooling status. Mostly though we use private instructors for the classes I can’t do for my kids such as Japanese, dance and gymnastics

Do you think there should be more kid lit books with a focus on homeschooling? Maybe you should write one!

Sure why not?!

What are some activities you and your kids do together?

We love to go hiking, drive to the beach, go to the Library, spend time at the local humane societies, garden, watch movies and of course read!

What are you working on right now?

As far as a novel? The novel I am currently finishing up is a YA SciFi about a dedicated young woman, Jasmine, who is part of a government run time travel project. Jasmine leads an assembly of time jumpers back and forth though time to try and stop the future destruction of the planet Earth but when she discovers that the project she has been part of her whole life has been keeping secret motives from her, she must decide if she wants to stay true to the project or trust a new friend and try to save Earth on her own.

We would love to see your bookworm starts, please share pictures of your kid’s bookworm in the comments below.

Sarah Shipley Shares Literary Based Activity
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One Comment

Kid Lit TV Commenter Molly

Not sure my wee one is old enough to appreciate a book worm, but will definitely keep it in mind for later. It looks fun and simple. Thanks!


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