It’s here! Summertime! Summer of fresh fruit, splashes in the sun, water pistols and sunscreen. Summer of mud baths, unstructured play, camping and canoeing. Summer of ice cream, watermelon, lemonade and fireflies. Whew! With all that busy-ness, who has time for reading ,right? Adults know the value of summer reading: an opportunity to slow down, relax and improve our skills and knowledge. But for many kids, summer reading is a slow down they don’t want when they could be outside having fun in the sun.
Whether your child loves reading or not, it’s important to keep him reading through the summer months so that, on the return to school in the fall, he hasn’t slipped down the slide. (For information on neutralizing the summer slide without overdoing it, read The Summer Slide, Is It Something To Fear?) What can you do? Encourage your child to read without making it a chore.
Implement Rest Hour
Every afternoon in our home, we have rest hour. During that hour everyone spends time doing something on his or her own, in his or her own space, quietly. I like to read a book or a magazine (it sets a good example and, usually it’s a reward for me to get quiet time to read.) Sometimes the kids play LEGOs or do puzzles. Other times we’ll find them drawing or designing a cool new city for their Hexbugs or falling into a much-needed restful sleep. Usually, they end up reading a book for at least a part of that hour. Rest hour allows children to unwind and think on their own. When you provide quiet activities for a child to do, and the time to do it, he’ll take himself into his own world and get lost in himself which is critical for independent growth.
Join a summer reading club
A summer reading club allows young readers to set goals and gain rewards for completing their goals. Children will log the books they’ve read and when they hit a “reward”, return their reading chart or log to receive a prize. Locally, you’ll find clubs at libraries. Barnes and Noble is offering a program this summer, Imagination’s Destination, that awards children with a new book after reading and logging 8 books. Read2Dream was started by a school teacher in her classroom and has spread nation wide this year–offering children a membership to a club where they set personal and team goals for reading encouragement.
Create your own goals
With your child, create your own goals and rewards system. Stronger readers can track reading time or chapters, while new readers can track books or time. Come up with rewards your child desires–be it new books, staying up an extra hour, a trip for ice cream or to the movies. Make sure your goals are reachable so that your child won’t have to wait all summer for a reward. Shelley at How Does She? featured a fabulous program she created, Summer Reading STAR!, (she included free printables!) that rewards children for reading with individually created prizes.
However you encourage your children to read this summer, give them time, help them to find books, and make it fun. Happy reading!