9 Opportunities for Incidental Reading at Home

9 Opportunities for Incidental Reading at Home

Written by Emma (Teach Starter)

The pandemic has thrown a few curve balls towards teachers and parents, and it seems that, for some of us, home readers are one of the newest things to go. You know the ones – the leveled reading books full of high-frequency sight words that are vital for helping our children learn to read and enjoy books. With these teaching tools now taken away because of hygiene and germ-avoidance, we must find a way for children to continue reading at home. That’s where incidental reading comes in to play.

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What is Incidental Reading?

Incidental reading is reading undertaken throughout our day-to-day routine. Unlike intentionally sitting down and reading a book, it allows children to practice their reading skills in real-life, meaningful ways. Incidental reading makes reading fun by placing it in a real-world context. Sometimes, kids don’t even realize they’re practicing reading at all!

Incidental Reading complements the traditional reading of storybooks – while it cannot replace these, it allows for further development of comprehension and decoding skills at home.


9 Opportunities for Incidental Reading

How can we provide our kids with fresh, new reading opportunities week after week without breaking the bank or overflowing the bookshelves? Incorporate incidental reading throughout your day! These nine ideas can be implemented in any home and are quick and easy to undertake.

#1 Chomp and Read

Kids love snacks! Whenever you get something out of the fridge or pantry, why not ask your child to read the packaging?

Incidental Reading Opportunities - read some pantry items

Erin Cadigan/shutterstock.com

You’ll be amazed at how many high-frequency words are on your every-day pantry items. What’s more, your kids will be able to sound out familiar brand names and food items and learn new food-related vocabulary.

#2 Catch Up on the News

While newspapers are becoming less frequent, some of us still get the daily local news on the driveway each morning!

Incidental Reading - Catch Up On the News

George Rudy/shutterstock.com

Pick up the paper and read through your local news with your child. If you don’t feel the news items appropriate, why not read through some of the advertisements for local and well-known businesses?

#3 Visit Your Neighborhood Lending Library

Neighborhood lending libraries, or book boxes, are wonderful sources of preloved reading materials. If you’re venturing out of your house, take a drive or walk by your local book box. You never know when new, exciting books have been placed inside!

Visit the Street Library


If you’re not lucky enough to have a neighborhood lending library nearby, why not start one yourself? All you need are a few preloved books, a box or some type of plastic tub, and an eye-catching sign.

#4 Help Out With Dinner

Meal planning or writing a grocery list? Why not get the kids involved?

9 Incidental Reading Opportunities for Learning at Home - Help out with dinner plans

Shopping ads and takeout menus are great ways to get your children sounding-out words as they choose their dinner. They also provide the added bonus of practicing money skills as well!

#5 Deconstruct an Instruction Manual

Here’s a brilliant way to practice some procedural text reading! Combine hands-on fun with reading an instruction manual.

9 Incidental Reading Opportunities for Learning at Home - Deconstruct a Construction Manual

Throw in some ‘nonsense’ word sound-out practice with those quirky codes and your children will be reading (and constructing) in no time!

#6 Learn to Play a New Game

With lots more time spent at home, many families are adding fun new games to their collection! Why not buy a new game for the family and ask your kids to explain the game instructions to the whole family.

9 Incidental Reading Opportunities for Learning at Home - Play a game

Antonio Batinic/shutterstock.com

Share some quality time together, and practice reading to boot!

#7 Do a Neighborly Book Swap

You may have some fun reading material right under your nose… if you’re sick of the same nightly story, see if your neighbors have any to swap!

9 Incidental Reading Opportunities for Learning at Home - Do a neighborly book swap

While not entirely incidental reading, doing a book drop at your neighbor’s front door can make a big difference. Get your kids to read out the titles so their neighbor friends can choose a story!

# 8 Get a Magazine Subscription

Does your child LOVE animals? How about Ancient Egypt? Do you have any old magazines lying around home collecting dust?

9 Incidental Reading Opportunities for Learning at Home - get a magazine subscription

Bring back the magazine subscription service by finding a topic that your kid loves! You’ll receive a weekly or monthly update of reading material to keep your kids reading going.

# 9 Go For a Drive

Finally, if you are itching to get out of the house, then practice your reading outside!

Street signs make excellent tools for fun, quick reading!

9 Incidental Reading Opportunities for Learning at Home - Go for a drive

Rob Bayer/shutterstock.com

Why not make a game out of it? Who can find the longest street sign or the shortest?

You can make incidental reading an easy part of your daily routine!

What’s your favorite way to read with your kids?

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