Most parents of school-aged children are familiar with the concept of the “summer slide.” When students spend a couple months away from school their progress tends to not only stop, but actually slide backwards, if the student does not engage in learning activities during that time. Parents may realize the importance of summer reading but convincing your kids of that importance is entirely different. As a school librarian and mom I have become a master at “thinking outside the book” to get kids to read. Check out these unique ideas to ditch the summer slide.
E-Readers and E-Books. Even the most reluctant readers are intrigued with the idea of e-books and e-readers. Consider purchasing an e-reader to encourage your child to continue reading over the summer months. Basic models run around $79 these days and many classic children’s books can be downloaded for free. Several public libraries also lend thousands of e-books, including the most popular titles, completely free of charge. Some libraries even lend the e-readers themselves. A new technology tool might be just the bait needed to get your child to participate in some old-fashioned summer reading.
Magazines. Non-fiction reading is still reading so don’t forget about informational texts as well as literature during the summer months. Consider subscribing to a magazine or two for your child. Child-focused magazines such as American Girl, Boys’ Life, Sports Illustrated Kids, Big Backyard, National Geographic Kids, Zoobooks, and Owl will excite your kids. You may find them reading their magazines cover to cover again and again. Every kid likes to get mail so a magazine subscription may be just what your young reader needs to keep reading even when school isn’t in session.
Audio Books and Playaways. Sure, reading actual print is important for building reading skills as well as cognitive skills. Listening to books, however, also stimulates cognition as students build listening skills and comprehension skills. Audio books on CDs are great for listening to in the car on all those summer road trips, as well as downloadable audio books played through an iPod. Many libraries lend tiny devices called Playaways. Playaways are like tiny MP3 players with headphone ports that contain a single audio book. Playaways mostly contain hot titles that will entice your child. If you kid gets car sick, audio books are an awesome alternative to reading in the car. And depending on which books you choose, the whole family might be ready to listen to the story.
Comic Books and Graphic Novels. If your child really isn’t interested in reading this summer consider introducing him or her to some comic books or graphic novels. The unique format of these books (yes, they are still books!) entices many young readers. Being able to decipher the text and pictures together to form the story is great for building a child’s brain. Consider checking out a comic book subscription or hit up your local bookstore for some graphic novels (Bone and Babymouse are two popular elementary series). Don’t count comic books out of your push for summer reading material, but be prepared to do some heavy duty previewing as many comics and graphic novels are too mature for young readers.
Online Reading and Apps. If you own a tablet such as an iPad or Kindle Fire, check out some of the great apps available that allow children to read books, be read to, or listen to stories. On your PC consider such sites at Tumblebooks and Scholastic’s Storia where you can watch and read books on a variety of levels. Sometimes just having a screen to look at, instead of a paper book, will get your kids reading.
Summer reading is oh-so-important particularly for elementary aged-learners. Use these ideas to keep your children happily reading all summer long. If you spin it the right way, your kids may never even notice they’re participating in summer reading.