We want our kids to play, rest, and relax this summer, but we also want them to continue learning as well as retain all the knowledge that they gained over the course of the school year. When opportunities for learning throughout the summer are scarce, kids may find themselves going down the summer slide, forgetting some of the skills they had just mastered in the classroom. Keeping kids reading all summer long is one easy way to prevent kids from regressing in their learning. Frequently reading during the summer break not only helps prevent summer slide, but it can also improve reading skills, build confidence, and reveal discoveries related to one’s interests and the world in which we live. This summer fill your kids’ break with reading!
Find the Right Books
Whether you are in your hometown or vacationing this summer, make frequent trips with your children to find books. Search for them in libraries, thrift shops, new and used bookstores, and at garage sales. At first, you will want to monitor your child’s book selection process carefully. While it’s good practice to allow your child the freedom to pick what he or she wants to read, selecting a book that is beyond the child’s skill level can be discouraging. Have your children try reading a page or two of a book they think they want to read. It’s okay for them to get a book that uses new vocabulary, but if your child encounters more than half a dozen unrecognizable words on a page, the chances are that the book won’t make for a pleasurable independent reading experience.
Considering one’s reading level is an important factor in selecting a book. Finding one that speaks to a particular interest is another. While books are often stored together at thrift shops and garage sales, stores that cater to readers and libraries organize their books professionally. Besides grouping titles by age – children, young adults, adults – the books are often organized by genre. Teaching your child to navigate through these places is a valuable life skill – they will always be reading for information. Having a professional available at these places helps, too. Not only can they assist your children in making a book selection, they may be able to place special orders. When kids have ample access to books over the summer, they’re more likely to keep reading.
Introducing different genres to kids is another way to keep them reading. Have your children tried reading a mystery, a western, or a biography? Is this the first summer when they will try a graphic novel or comic book? Magazines for kids, by kids, or about a niche may spark your child’s desire to read. Depending on your child’s age, it may be time to try an e-book. Don’t rule out audiobooks either. These can be great for a child to listen to independently; audiobooks can also be engaging for the whole family if you’re taking a road trip this summer.
Reading on the Road
Reading while traveling may be a great way for your child to pass time. Have your kids bring books on long car rides, to the airport, or on a train. They can experiment reading in other locations, too. They may find it’s easy to keep the pages turning while relaxing at the park or in the backyard. When the weather is bad and they’re stuck indoors, persuade them to try reading in different areas of the home. Libraries and bookstores are often comfortable places to relax and read. Keep this in mind when you’re out of town. Visiting the facilities in another area can help relieve the stress of being away from home; plus, it’s free to do.
Socialize Through Reading
Summer can be a time when kids crave socialization. During school, they’re with their peers, but in the summer, they might have to spend a lot of time alone. Being involved with a summer reading program or book club can change that! First, check to see if your local library offers a program to meet your child’s needs. Books on the reading list often are chosen based on a theme. The summer programs often have special events and keynote speakers. Gatherings will include your child’s peers and being together can inspire them to share reading experiences and encourage each other as readers. This year, the theme for the national Collaborative Summer Library Program is “A Universe of Stories.” It is geared towards space exploration as well as a variety of topics and tales related to STEM fields – studies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It will be presented to children in a way that allows them to read according to their preferences. Plus, fun prizes and incentives are usually awarded to children who meet predetermined reading goals.
Joining a reading program at the library isn’t an option for everyone though. You may want to start your own reading group with your child’s friends, family, or neighbors. You can create your own theme and use the readings as a springboard to fieldtrips around town or as you travel. Parents can take turns hosting book talks throughout the summer. Kids will look forward to seeing the others, and their reading experiences will be fodder for conversations they don’t usually have with friends and family.
Make the reading milestones special with fun rewards. These can be tied to a theme, such as space or just cool tokens that show your children you are proud of them. Bookmarks are a great place to start! When kids get into the practice of reading all summer long, they are well on their way to being lifelong readers.