Raising Readers Monday: Bathroom Literacy

Sure, lots of us keep a book or magazine in the bathroom – but that’s just the beginning.  A basket of reading material by the potty is a great idea for kids of all ages, but there are many ways to encourage literacy in your children while they are, shall we say, “a captive audience?”  Stick with me here.  It’s not as weird as you think.


On the Wall

When my then-2nd-grader complained that she didn’t have enough time to study her spelling lists, I got creative.  I made copies of the list and put them in various places she’d easily be able to review them throughout the week.  In the car, by her seat at the table, and in the bathroom.  I refined this a bit and now will write out only the words she has difficulty with, sometimes highlighting tricky spellings like the “h” in “whale” and “wheel.”  I hang them at “seated eye level” in her bathroom.  Now we’re multi-tasking!

It needn’t be spelling words, though.  You could easily put up a poster board with sight words and pictures, rhyming words, or vocabulary for the SAT’s.  Anything age-appropriate for your child will work just great.  The more times we see a word, the better we recognize it – just think how many times a week they see that wall!

Another great idea is to hang a frame on the wall facing the throne.  Put in printed poetry, jokes and riddles, or short stories. Make sure the print is large enough for the situation.  lil-davinci-8-by-10

This Little DaVinci Art Frame opens from the front and lets you put in up to 50 pieces of paper, stacked one on the other – so you could stock it up and change it out quickly and easily!  There are lots of sites online that let you read and print poetry and stories – or you can copy or type out some of your favorites.  One to try: Ken Nesbitt’s Poetry for Kids for short, cute and funny rhymes.

On the Mirror

Window markers (available at craft stores) are great for leaving messages on the mirror in your child’s bathroom.  Leave a riddle, an I love you, or a clue to where a small prize is hidden on the mirror. Write an inspiring quote, and encouraging note, or a word-of-the-day for older kids. The mirror could be a great place for a to-do list, as well.   This is an easy thing to do before you head to bed – and your child will love being greeted by it in the morning! They may even start leaving messages for you, too.

In the Tub

My kids and I have always had a lot of fun time in the tub.  Bath time is a relaxing time of day, usually with lots of giggles and bubbles.  I loved introducing literacy games into our tubby time when they were little.

Several companies make great tub crayons for writing on the sides of your tub.  My favorites  from Alex Toys come with a little ducky sponge for cleaning them off.   I like to write from 4-10 letters (upper case, lower case, whatever the child is ready for) or simple words on the side of the tub.  Then I will call out a letter/word and the child gets to “erase” it by scrubbing it off with the sponge or a wash cloth.

This is also a great place to work on rhymes and word families.  Write “tub” on the tub.  Sound it out with your child.  Now have them erase the “t” and write in another letter.  Did you make “rub?” “cub?” or get laughing with a silly word like “zub?”  Next, erase the “b” at the end and turn “tub” into “tug.”  You’ve got the idea.  Splashing and bubbles are a great way to make reading fun!

You can easily find foam alphabet letters that stick to the sides of the tub for more games like this.  Try floating the letters in the tub, scooping them up in a net, and having the child identify which letters he “caught.”   For K-1st graders, see if they can scoop up the letters to build a word. This is a great way to reinforce the idea that every word needs a vowel.

In the Cabinet

Tweens, teens and young adults need to learn the important skill of reading product labels.  Make time to teach your older kids how to read and compare labels on shampoos, soaps and lotions.  If they have allergies or sensitivities, they should be able to look for those ingredients on the labels.  There’s great info on helping kids with food allergies look for allergens in other products here.  Teach kids to look for important warnings, like to avoid eye contact or call poison control in case of ingestion.  When your kids get new personal products like face wash or acne treatments, make sure they can read and follow the instructions correctly.

Tweens and teens need to know to ask an adult before taking any medication – but it’s also important for them to learn to read labels on OTC medications.  Scholastic has a great program for OTC literacy with lots of resources online here.  The FDA has a multi-media program with tips for parents and kids called Medicines in my Home that teaches OTC literacy and safety, as well.


DO you have ideas for promoting “bathroom literacy?”  Post them in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!


9 thoughts on “Raising Readers Monday: Bathroom Literacy

  1. Great post! I don’t have children but I was raised with always books/magazines in the bathroom, either in a basket or on a small shelf within rich. When I was a child, I had some child books there, which evolved with my age. Sometimes it was new material, sometimes it was something I really liked and reread. Since a teen, I know it even happened to me to have a tiny notebook and a pencil, in case I had an idea to jolt down right away.


  2. What a clever, inspiring post! Not so much a “bathroom” idea, but my kids love reading the backs of cereal boxes, etc. which makes me think a little re-fillable, rotating frame with poetry, latin terms, spelling words, math facts, etc. might also be effective on the breakfast table.


    • That would be a great idea! I’ve used little placecard holders at the table to put index cards with spelling words or quotes by their seats at the table before. I think my kids read the cereal boxes just to avoid talking to eah other in the morning. We don’t have morning people in this house.


  3. What a great post full of all kinds of ideas I never thought of! I don’t have much to add except that our kids always enjoyed having their backs soaped and then trying to guess what letters we wrote on their backs. When they were good at getting single letters, we’d do one letter at a time to spell words, like C-A-T.


  4. I seriously love the spelling list idea!! Also, when one of them clearly needs to go potty cuz of tummy issues, taking a book has helped. I’m stealing some of these ideas.

    I have no good ideas except maybe poetry magnets 🙂


  5. Pingback: #RaisingReaders Monday: Finding Time to Read Together | kateywrites

  6. Pingback: Make Poetry Fun and Relevant for Every Child: an Interview with poet/educator Laura Shovan | kateywrites

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