Article by Ruth O’Neil first published in THSC REVIEW May 2014.
Ahhh! Summer vacation. Students breathe a sigh of relief, while parents may dread the “I’m bored” whining and also may worry about all the knowledge their children will forget over the summer months. One way to keep kids from forgetting all that we tried to get them to remember is by reading—something that is good for kids of all ages. The only thing that changes is the choice of books.
Reading is something you can do with your children, especially if they are younger, or you can have them read on their own. You can set up a specific time of the day for reading, having them read for thirty minutes on a daily basis, for example. You can allow them to read at night before bed. Whatever you do, make it fun and something they want to do. Sometimes I read aloud to my kids while they eat lunch. It’s usually one chapter, which is not always enough for them. They look forward to the next day’s reading!
Here are some ideas to keep your kids reading all summer long and not forgetting all that they learned during the school year.
Take them to the library.
The library is a great place to start. There is a wealth of books, on any subject you can imagine, that are free for the borrowing. Let your children pick out books that they just want to read, but you can pick out books that you would prefer they read too. Usually books are checked out for a couple of weeks, but in my experience it doesn’t take them that long to finish reading all the books they have chosen. When they run out of the ones they have picked out it’s time for you to pull out the books that you have chosen.
Let them watch the movie after reading the book.
When you hear of a movie coming out that is based on a book, read the book together to anticipate seeing it at the theater. Although watching a movie instead of reading a book is never something I would suggest, it is fun to watch the movie after the book has been read. Many times kids will find that they actually liked the book better.
Buy or borrow books that remind them of what they learned.
One of the things my third-grader covered in science this year was the differences between mammals and amphibians. I will get books about frogs and toads that he might enjoy reading. While he is reading those books, he will be reminded of what an amphibian is and what makes it special. He will also be reminded of the vocabulary associated with amphibians that can sometimes be difficult to remember. Did your children learn about invertebrates, snakes, or entomology? Find books that reiterate what they learned.
Participate in summer reading programs at bookstores.
My kids have enjoyed the programs at our local book stores. Barnes and Noble has a reading program in which the kids read a certain number of books and the children are rewarded—with more books! These programs are an encouraging way for children to get something special for their efforts.
Take part in summer reading programs at the library.
Many libraries have reading programs also. Librarians do some reading aloud, but it’s usually more fun than just sitting in a circle listening to someone read. There are projects and crafts to be completed. Sometimes they have a special storyteller. Check your local library to see if it has any special summer events.
Encourage them to read the classics.
A large portion of the SAT and ACT tests is vocabulary. Reading the classics is a great way to increase children’s vocabulary. They don’t necessarily have to look up every word they don’t know—it is summer vacation, after all. Sometimes they can figure out what an unfamiliar word means from the context. Your kids do not have to be in high school to get them reading the classics; start young.
Get books that encourage children to read for themselves.
Nothing is more discouraging than making children read books that are too hard for them. When you choose books, they should be somewhat challenging so that children are not bored, but if the book is too difficult, it will be tossed aside and not read at all. Don’t forget: This is summer vacation. Let them read books that may be lower than their grade level, just to keep them reading.
Help your kids continue their educations by having them read books all summer long. Buy a book for a reward. Buy a book to read on the way to vacation. Rainy days are perfect for reading. Choose books that reinforce what was learned throughout the school year, but make it fun. Make books something special so your children will want to keep on reading.
Finding Good Books to Read
So you want your kids to read during their summer vacation, but where do you find good books? Here are a few websites that give lists of books grouped by age. (Proceed with caution; some of these books may be unsuitable by some families’ standards.)