As the school year wraps for summer recess, kids are anticipating a break from studies…and nightly reading. But experts advise against parents allowing their kids to take a three-month long literary hiatus. While summer break keeps kids out of classrooms, experts say that the reading must continue.
According to Reading is Fundamental, “during the summer months, all children are at risk of losing some of the learning obtained during the school year.” Once a reading gap opens, overcoming the deficit becomes harder and the child risks falling behind their peers. Children in low-income communities are especially at risk of falling behind during the summer.
Promote literacy at home by making books a part of summer vacation. Older kids should read daily; encourage the habit by allowing them to pick their own books online or at the library. Thrift stores also have a trove of great reads at incredibly inexpensive prices (some paperbacks cost a quarter!). If younger children are not yet at a stage where they can read alone, parents should take the lead by reading aloud. For personalized children’s books, however, try to encourage younger kids to at least read their name throughout the story.
The National Education Association (NEA) reports that “26 percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet. This is compared to 14 percent of children who were read to less frequently.”
While not all kids may willingly sit down with a good book, there are many tips and tricks that parents can use to encourage and reward regular summer reading habits:
Be a parent who reads!
Parents need to show kids the joy of books. Read in front of kids; spend your spare time reading a good book. When children see that parents find reading enjoyable, they are more likely to pick up a book, too. Kids learn by watching parents. How can we expect our children to read if we don’t ever open a book? Actions always speak louder than words.
Start a family book club.
Some children’s books are actually even better when read as an adult. Parents will find deeper stories in books like “Ramona and Her Father” or “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” when they re-read them as adults. Have the entire family read a book that fits on the most basic level of the youngest reader. Discuss each individual chapter as a family and point out thoughts and feelings of the characters. Try to read and discuss a few books each month. Then, at the end of the summer, vote on which book was the favorite.
Get ‘Personal’ with Personalized Children’s Books
Choose personalized children’s books for younger kids that integrate the child’s name and photo into the story. Personalized children’s books are a wonderful way to pique a child’s interest in a story and make them feel part of the adventure. If the book is on their reading level, have children sit and read independently. When reading personalized children’s books aloud, have kids try to predict what they think their character will do next in the book.
For kids that kick and scream every time they have to read a book, implement a reading rewards system. Children may be rewarded for a certain number of books read or for simply finishing a chapter book. Parents can choose how they wish to set up reading goals. Let children choose rewards, but make sure the reward fits the goal. If they want an expensive game or toy, make them earn it!
When the final bell of the school season rings, don’t let kids leave their books behind. Children who read during the summer are better prepared for the next school year. Playing catch up after falling behind in reading can be nearly impossible. Make sure kids have a literary head-start next year by keeping the books open and the library cards active!