Studies suggest that children who read as few as six books over the summer maintain the level of reading skills they achieved during the preceding school year. Reading more books leads to even greater success. When children are provided with 10 to 20 self-selected children's books at the end of the regular school year, as many as 50 percent not only maintain their skills, but actually make reading gains. So here is what you can do to be proactive in the reading rally:
1. Join your local library summer reading initiatives. Most libraries have a summer reading program and if they don't, get vocal and get one started. Join and then commit to going to the library, checking out books, and reading! Establish one morning or day a week that is your library day. The day you go to return books, find new ones and collect the program stamps that libraries offer toward prizes. The stickers and stamps are very motivating and the library is usually buzzing in the summer months. Take advantage of the rainy days or the air conditioning to go more than once. Pack a lunch and picnic on the library lawn with your stack of new books. If your child was sent home with a summer reading list, super, but also don't feel limited to what is on the list. Explore the possibilities of finding new favorites, reread old favorites, try a book on tape or CD, share a book together, and/or start a book group for parents and kids.
2. Make the local bookstore your drop in and shop stop before a car trip or vacation. Allowing your child to shop for new books makes the excitement about reading even greater. Spend the time browsing authors your child enjoys, series that they have wanted to read, and recommendations of others. Self-selection is truly important when it comes to motivation to read. Just ask any child who has been given $10 to spend at the school book fair. There are so many books to choose from that they easily could create a personalized stack. Once your kids hit their purchasing limit, keep a list of other self-selected titles for the future.
3. Find the right level. Many parents are concerned about finding books at the right reading level for their kids. My advice to parents is to speak to yours child's teacher so you have an idea of where to guide them in the bookstore. But I never recommend telling a child a book is too hard. If it is a challenging book then you need to project excitement to read it together. Here is a quick guide for how students are taught to select "just right" books for their reading level in school.
- Too easy: No challenging words, they can read it quickly without errors in decoding. It is phrased and fluent, meaning that it sounds enjoyable to listen to if read aloud by your child.
- Too hard: There are many words your child doesn't know or gets stuck on. Reading is slow and lacks the flow when read aloud. Try the 5-finger test: Choose a random page. For every word your child gets stuck on or stumbles over, put a finger up. If you get to 5 on a page then it is a bit too hard for them to read independently.
- Just right: Most words are just right and every so often a word comes up that takes a little work. The tricky words do not break up the flow of the reading or get in the way of understanding the text. The story is still fluent and sounds enjoyable when read aloud.
There are so many possibilities to engage in reading over the summer. Whichever you choose to pursue just make sure you actually do it and excite your child in the process.
Have questions or suggestions? Please share in the comments below!
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