It’s *gulp* the end of July and we are finally getting into the swing of summer. One of the activities that we let slide for the first bit of summer was reading. It wasn’t intentional, but bedtimes were pushed back, company was plenty, and routines were discarded in favor of freedom. However, we’ve jumped back on the horse and we’re all spending more time reading now.
Disclaimer: I am a mostly stay at home mom and these suggestions come from that vantage point. So, apply this to your weekend, tweak, add, share your own ideas for how you fit reading into your family’s summer schedule.
Here’s what we’ve found helpful:
1. Lots of libraries offer different summer programs to engage kids in reading, and they can be great. They have different programs for different aged kids and they often help classmates connect and allow for socialization while participating in the reading program. Some libraries are better at this than others, but it’s an excellent resource for folks who respond well to structure.
2. Aside from the programs, visiting the library on a quiet or rainy day can also be inspiring. Often during the school year my library trips are squeezed in before or after bus pick up or on our way to another errand. In the summer, it’s great to simply make the library your destination.
3. TD Banknorth offers a summer reading program which combines encouragement to read with encouragement to save money. They are offering any child under 18 who reads 10 books this summer $10 to be deposited into their bank account. Are other banks doing this, too?
4. Comic books are not evil. My 8 year old fell in love with comics after a friend of ours passed down the DC Encyclopedia to him. He’s never looked back and I can’t begin to guess how many hours he’s invested in that book, as well as the Marvel version that he later acquired, as well as creating his own series of comics.
I don’t buy books. Or, I rarely buy books, because I am an avid library patron. However, the other day my son asked if we could go Borders to buy a new book. He’s been saving his money and really wanted the next in the comic book series he’s been reading. We counted up the money and the 3 kids and I headed to the book store.
It’s my opinion that reading comic books and reading novels require different skill sets. Both are valuable- valued- in our house. Both feed my son’s hunger for creativity. So he bought 1 comic book and 1 novel. That was Sunday, and by Monday night he’d read them both.
Back to the list:
5. My kids love to host ice cream parties and invite the whole neighborhood over to partake in the gluttonous feast. Everyone brings a different topping and the parents socialize while the kids (ranging in age from 1 to high school) play pick up games of soccer and duck duck goose. The goal we’ve set is to finish our summer reading (I admit to pulling arbitrary numbers of my ear for this one), so that we can host a huge enormous ice cream social before school starts.
6. Reinvent the routine. If your usual reading time is at bedtime but you find that your longer summer days make it difficult to complete evening reading before implosions or meltdowns occur, switch it up. Institute a quiet time before or after lunch or dinner where everyone curls up with a book.
7. If you’re going on vacation, do some family research and prepare for the trip, even if its a vacation you’ve taken 100 times before. This is great for older kids and can draw together lots of skills including reading. My sister and her kids just joined us on the east coast (from San Francisco) for 3 weeks. They spent time in 3 different states and covered umpteen hundred miles on their trip. Geography, math, reading, social studies, science, etc, etc, etc.
Younger kids will also enjoy reading a cluster of picture books about your destination. For example if you’re headed to the coast check out some books about the ocean. If you are heading to Maine (call me!) and check out some books about the state.
8. Set an example. Read, talk about reading, set your own goals for summer reading and then meet them.
9. Involve siblings. Have older children read to or make book recordings for younger siblings, cousins or friends. This also makes a GREAT birthday gift for young kids, and provides the older children with opportunities to inspire beginning readers.
10. Read and listen to other people who are passionate about reading:
What works for you?
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by Megin Hatch
Photo graciously provided by Lori Greig, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.