The importance of reading with children has been established time and time again. Shared reading time between you and your child becomes even more enriched when it is followed by a related activity. With most children's books there is a cooking project, nature walk, creative play, or art project that can extend the story's theme.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis conveys that a box isn't just a box through the creative eyes of a child, or in this case a rabbit. Using either a box or other recycled material, your child can use his/her own imagination to repurpose them into something new, pretend or real. Offer support to make their vision a reality. Another simple way to extend this story and allow for creative thinking is to draw a simple line or shape on a piece of paper. Have your child add on to the line/shape, creating something new. Have him/her tell you about the drawing. For example a "<" may become the open mouth of a shark with sharp teeth!
Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert will excite your child about the wonderful process of butterfly metamorphosis. If you live in a climate that supports caterpillars and butterflies there is nothing more magical than a butterfly garden. By simply adding a few host plants (for the caterpillars) and nectar plants (for the butterflies) to your flower beds or pots your child will certainly have his/her own opportunity to wait for wings! Information can easily be found online to help you create a butterfly garden. In Dallas, we only needed to add a parsley plant and marigolds.
Hats, Hats, Hats (Around the World Series) by Ann Morris is one of several books that use authentic photographs to bring us images from around the world. In this book she provides photographs of different hats and their many uses. These books will begin a discussion of other things around you and their similarities and differences. Make a list, play a game in the car, or if you have access to a digital camera help your child make a photo collection of his/her own. For example: various chairs and their purpose, animals with tails, things that are red, things that have wheels. These simple activities will help to develop your child's critical thinking.