Summer is around the corner! Children daydream about running through the sprinklers, cannonballing into the swimming pool, and chasing ice cream trucks. However, teachers are envisioning their little students laying on the lawn, reading book after book. With a few simple steps, you can set your child up for summer reading success. The outdoor play, kids can easily manage on their own!
The first step is to make reading an available activity. Your child will need access to a supply of interesting and appropriately leveled books. If the books do not interest your child, they will not get read. If the books are not at the correct level, your child may feel discouraged or bored. Ask a childrenʼs librarian, an experienced childrenʼs bookseller or your childʼs teacher for recommendations.
Once you have a supply of great books, the second step is to create an area where the books are accessible and inviting. Some families keep a plastic crate that holds a rotation of library books. This is a great idea so that library books are kept separate from home books. Other families keep books on a bookshelf. A traditional bookshelf can work well for older children, but is not ideal for younger ones. Younger children benefit from a bookshelf designed to store books facing front, not showing the spine. Younger children are drawn to cover images, which entices them to pick the book up. Anyway you choose to set up your books, consider placing a child sized table or a comfy bean bag near the book storage area. The more inviting the reading area is, the more likely it will get used!
A third, yet important, step is to make reading fun and varied! Here are some ideas to change up your reading routine:
1. Attend library story times or book clubs for kids.
2. Choose audio books. These are great for car trips!
3. Watch a movie or cartoon based on a book that your child has recently read. Compare and contrast how the movie and book are alike and different.
4. Read E-books! Download some for your iPad, smartphone, or even your desktop.
5. Introduce child-friendly magazines such as High Five, National Geographic Kids, Sports Illustrated for Kids, or American Girl Magazine. Older issues are available from the library for check-out.
6. Have a family read-aloud this summer! Choose a high interest book and read a little bit each night before bedtime. Be sure to stop reading just when it gets good! Your children will be eager to pick up where you left off tomorrow.
7. Create adventures by reading in new places such as the patio, the porch swing, on a blanket on the grass, or in a tent with a flashlight.
8. Purchase some paint by number and color by direction books. Children will learn to recognize numbers, color words, and how to follow directions. Older children may enjoy a more challenging project such as model building. Reading directions counts, too!
Fourth, set a goal and choose an incentive with each child. Goal setting is an important skill and reaching that goal is something that should be rewarded. Some libraries offer summer reading programs with prizes for children who achieve their goal. This is a great option because it is free! Alternatively, choose an incentive that will highly motivate your child such as a trip to the roller rink, bowling, attending a movie with a friend, or even an ice cream as a special treat. Be sure to make the goal attainable for your child. Children who do not reach their goal will be very disappointed and may lack enthusiasm for reading goals in the future. When in doubt, make the goal easier to reach, than not!
Finally, itʼs important for parents to set the example. When your children see you reading, and enjoying it, they will be more likely to follow suit. It doesnʼt take much time, only 15 minutes per day-and magazines count! So, dive into some good books yourself this summer and your family will have a blast with their summer reading!