Summer Reading Adventures

Summer Reading Adventures

By Brenda Hyde

Each summer my kids can't wait to sign up for our library's summer reading program. I encourage everyone to do this with their children. It's free, fun and rewarding for the kids! Most programs work the same: the kids make a pledge to read a certain number of books, and they hand in a sheet with the book titles and the authors' names near the end of the summer. I feel that reading with our kids and teaching them a love of reading is one of the most important things we can do as parents and grandparents. Here are some simple tips to promote a summer of reading:

Look at your summer schedule and make a plan for visits to the library, how many books each child will be allowed to check out and set times for a reading period each day when no television or radio is allowed and everyone reads on their own. This might seem rigid, but from experience I know that the summer days go quickly and are very busy which often makes it hard to include time for reading unless you MAKE it part of your schedule.

Set aside a spot on a bookshelf or a table where all library books will be kept. The only exception is if one of the kids is reading a chapter book they can keep it on their bedroom headboard to read before bed, but must return it when it's finished before grabbing the next one. This teaches responsibility, plus it's simply necessary to keep track of the library books.

Once a week set aside a family reading discussion, rather like a mini book club, to talk about what each person is reading, what they liked and didn't like, what they learned and their impressions of the books they have read so far. After my son read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn we had some great talks!

Encourage kids to write book reviews. It makes the kids feel special and helps them to share their thoughts about the books that they read! Don't make it "homework". Use the reviews as would journals to record thoughts and experiences. You can buy each child a notebook and ask them to journal their thoughts after each reading period or once a week. Give the little ones a notebook too and ask them to draw pictures of what they remember about the books you read to them.

If you have toddlers and non-reading kids along with older children, have them share the reading aloud times. We read at night before bed, and though my daughter is only 3, her brothers, who are 9 and 10, love listening to the stories we choose for her. I will often read a book aloud, then the second book is read by the boys, who take turns. This makes an impression on all of the children!

Hint: if you have small children their attention span will be much shorter then the older kids, so you've got to keep things moving. Start out by reading yourself with as much expression as possible then let the older kids take short turns reading so things move along and you can read the final pages. I find this really helps to keep a toddlers attention on the reading.

Use reading themes to make things interesting. My toddler loves when we read groups of books on gardening, cats, dogs, insects, bunnies, ocean life and farm animals. Older kids love themes such as castles, science, mysteries, dinosaurs, ocean life (a hit with big and little kids!), super heroes, dragons, and nature. It also helps the kids to narrow down their selections while you are at the library trying to get everyone what they need. It's often too hard for them to choose.

Be an example! Take time to check out your own books and share with the kids what you are interested in. They need to see that you are a reader too! You'll find that reading inspires the imagination in all of us, no matter what our age, and it makes the summer fun for the entire family.

About the Author:

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer, editor and owner of Old Fashioned She is also a wife and mom to three children who love to read.

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