As I type this, my 11 year-old is curled on the couch reading a book. My heart is happy.
Reading is not something she’s automatically drawn to like I was at that age and still am. Summer reading wasn’t as big a challenge when she was younger, but as she got older, reading got harder as summer got busier.
Summer reading something we have to continually encourage and the fact that she’s reading on her own today less than a week after school is out may just be a minor miracle. Somehow, concerns about the summer slide don’t loom as large for her as they do for me. A few easy ways to encourage summer reading.
* Find a summer reading program
I love our local library and while they do offer a summer reading program for all ages, the tween and teen theme this year is a zombie theme with the tag line “Read Your Brains Out.” That, however, was a complete turn off to my not so zombie loving daughter and I have to admit the image they have of the reader consuming a brain isn’t terribly enticing.
Thankfully, we discovered the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge that covers grades grades K–8. They have all kinds of activities, book suggestions and more for kids up to age 14, so nothing too “babyish” for my middle schooler. It’s theme is Reading Under the Stars, a more appealing theme.
I’ll be honest, I had no idea before this summer how very motivating the reading timer app would be. I think the fact that it is an app is what initially interested my tween and she sat down to read today because she wants to log minutes. I suggested she set a goal for herself and she came up with one, and then upped it. Awesome.
Not only is this promoting reading, but it’s also a great way to work on goal setting. We’ve made a chart and are marking her progress with every 100 minutes towards her goal.
I know you can keep track through just a regular timer, but if my tween thinks it is more fun and motivating to use the app and enjoys being able to see how she’s done over the course of a week, I’m absolutely on board.
* Mix up your materials
Poetry, newspapers, magazines – it’s all reading. Sample them all this summer.
I love reading poems. They’re easy to switch back and forth as parents and children take turns and often appeal to all ages. There’s not required commitment involved, and it’s a fun way to mix up reading. You can’t go wrong with Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawingsand Jack Prelutsky, named the first Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation in 2006, has several great poetry books, including Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face: And Other Poems: Some of the Best of Jack Prelutsky. If you want to check out something more serious, try Caroline Kennedy’s compilations, including Poems to Learn by Heart.
Just like poetry books can be a welcome change, magazines can also be a fun way to mix things up. It’s fun to take your child to the book store and turn them loose on the wall of magazines and see what he/she picks. Make a date of it and spend some time reading in the cafe together.
Magazines are great conversation starters – what was their favorite article? least favorite? What was something new they learned? Anything included in there that is old news to them? What kind of story would they write for the magazine?
* Be involved
One way is to read to them. Yup, no matter how old kids are, they benefit from being read to. You can find more on the benefits of reading to kids here.
Make sure your kids see you read. Have family reading time. It can be so hard to set aside 30 minutes in the middle of a busy summer weekend, but, as Patterson and reading experts stress, it’s so very important that they see you reading, too.
If you could use a little inspiration and ideas for fun activities to try, check out Scholastic Parent’s Facebook page, which offers daily tips.
There’s something wonderful about getting lost in a great book on a summer day – wishing that for both you and your kids in these next few warm months! Happy reading!
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