As the school year comes to an end, we know that many parents may be stressing about the dreaded “Summer Slide.” Reading is especially important for kids on summer vacation, and parents can be proactive to make sure that their kids keep reading (and enjoy it) all summer long! At Stratford, we believe that encouraging summer reading has many benefits, such as: neutralizing learning loss, improving comprehension and memory skills, and creating a lifelong reader. We have come up with some tips to help keep your child actively reading all summer long.
Themed Summer Reading
Why not choose a theme for your family’s summer reading adventure? For example, this summer is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Head to your local public library to find books about space, astronauts, and explorers. After reading about space, supplement the reading experience with an outing to a planetarium. Hands-on adventures like these help reinforce what’s been read and keeps children excited about going on the next reading adventure. At Stratford School, we also recommend Midnight on the Moon by Mary Pope Osborne. Don’t miss The Magic Treehouse series! It inspires children to learn about a variety of topics with the main characters, Jack and Annie. Another option is to find some books about sports, athletes or sports fiction, then take a family trip to a baseball game. Some of the “Who Was” series are about baseball stars, such as Who Was Jackie Robinson, by Gail Herman, and Who Was Babe Ruth, by Joan Holub. These easy to read biographies are filled with drawings and will inspire your children to keep reading the series as they learn about historical figures.
Find Ways to Read as a Family
If you are going on a family road trip, select a book together and listen to the audio version while on the road. There are so many titles from which to choose. Our favorites are : Anne Hathaway reading The Wizard of Oz, or Matilda narrated by Kate Winslet. Another classic is Charlotte’s Web, read by the author, E.B. White. At Stratford, our teachers value the importance of decoding in teaching children to read. Audiobooks are just as good as print books when it comes to understanding the message, thinking critically about the content and using your imagination. After all, making connections is at the heart of what it means to be a reader and it’s why kids learn to love books.
Get Kids Thinking About What They Want to Read
Many schools have long required reading lists during the school year. Summer can be a time for students to select their own books, and within reason nothing should be off limits. Silly titles, such as Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon, The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett, and Stick Dog by Tom Watson can be funny, non-intimidating ways to kick off your summer reading. These books are filled with art and adventures, and will have your children begging for the next book in the series. Make frequent trips to local libraries to let your children browse the shelves and find something new. Help your kids express their interests, then help them find some nonfiction books that align with those interests. If you are excited about books, or about finding new things to read, they will be too.
Participate in a Reading Challenge
Stratford School hosts a fun summer reading challenge called Summer Reading BINGO. Many local libraries also host their own reading programs. You’ll find reading hosted online through Scholastic, Barnes and Noble, Chuck E. Cheese, and others. Most of these programs are free and have great reading rewards. These programs are easy to sign up and let’s face it, children love the idea that by reading books in the summer they can earn prizes. If the challenge requires chapter books and your kids aren’t ready, you can chose some fun ones to read together. Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle is a great choice. Another option that we like is Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows. These books have chapters that feel more like short stories, which makes it easy to read when we find ourselves with just a few minutes free during the busy summer days.
Making the Time
Remember that while summer is a time to relax and unwind, keeping a reliable schedule with some structure is good for children. Why not let your kids know that there will be time set aside for quiet reading? Before or after naptime, if your child is young, is a great time to read. If your child has grown out of naps, try reading instead. This could be called “reading time” or “quiet book time” and can be done independently in their rooms as a way of encouraging reading.