Make Summer Reading Exciting
To parody the familiar phrase from the famous playwright William Shakespeare:
To Read, Or Not to Read (in the summer)? That is the question!
If you ask any educator whether or not it is important for students to read during the summer they would resound a unanimous “YES!" Is it because teachers want to ruin summer vacation or to make children "suffer" by making them read? Well . . . maybe. Seriously, teachers really do have the students' best interest at heart.
It is not new information that reading over the summer is important. As an educator and librarian, I have read many articles, texts and professional literature about studies that have indicated that if students take a break from reading during the summer, they lose the very skills that are taught in the classroom, such as reading fluency and comprehension. These articles also reveal many reasons that illustrate the importance of summer reading, which include but are not limited to:
- Keeps kids as active readers
- Allows their minds to be creative/imaginative
- Encourages them to build and maintain a healthy vocabulary
- Supports the continued use of literary skills (fluency, comprehension, etc.)
The real question is not "Is it important for children to read over summer break?" but "How can we encourage children to read over the summer?"
There are many ways to encourage your child to read in a way that creates a feeling of fun rather than dread.
- Read a story with your child and then explore the author's website together on the Internet. Many author sites have interactive games and activities. Try Seussville.com.
- Have a book club party with friends. Have the children read a book, pick a date to discuss the book, create activities and, if it has a movie that goes with it, watch the film as a group with pizza, popcorn and drinks. (For an extension activity, discuss the differences between the book and movie.)
- Read a book that goes along with history or science, then visit a museum that relates to the story. Example: Read a story about Pompeii, volcanoes or Benjamin Franklin, then visit the Franklin Institute exhibit. Or read a book about dinosaurs and visit the Academy of Natural Sciences.
- Visit Winterthur's Fairy Garden or go on a nature hike after reading books about fairies or nature.
- Have a “campout”: Read campfire stories or poems and sleep in a tent in the backyard with a fire in the fire pit and s'mores.
- Help your kids find their favorite genre. Pick different genres (mysteries, historical fiction, fantasy, biographies, etc.) to introduce the children to new types of books. Make a "menu" (list) of the different genres and take it to the library or bookstore with you when you pick out a new book. Read the back of a book or inside cover to see if it piques interest. After reading the book, have the kids rate it 1 to 5 stars and let them tell you what they did or didn't like about the book.
- Create an incentive chart for how many books/pages they read and give them a small treat. For instance, for every book finished they can have an extra hour at the pool, a day trip to the beach or, even better, a new book from the bookstore or library.
Finally, parents are usually interested in making sure their children are reading appropriate material and books with positive role models/characters. To find out, visit Commonsensemedia.org. This site reviews books for content and age appropriateness. Happy reading and have an adventurous summer!
Sandy Bouchard has been the Early Childhood and Lower School Librarian at Ursuline Academy for nine years. The students attend Library class on a weekly basis starting at age 3, where they are taught how to check out a book, research books for information and much more. Sandy received her Masters of Elementary Education from Wilmington University.