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Do Children Really Need to Read in the Summer?

Summer is here. Kids are thinking of ice cream, the beach, playing in the sprinkler and long days. Parents are worrying about sunblock, mosquitos, child care and hydration.

After such a stressful and confusing year, this summer should be a time for relaxation and resetting. There is no doubt about that.

But that does not mean anyone should turn off their brains. In fact, there is research that says many students will experience summer slide, a loss of the educational gains made during the previous school year.

This, however, does not mean students should be studying for hours a day during the summer. We know they need a break, but there are plenty of fun and engaging activities to keep their brains active.

Each month this summer, we will provide you with some of those activities.

Summer Reading

It sounds archaic. It’s been around forever. But there is plenty of research to support it. If your child is one that likes to read, the words summer reading do not cause you any stress, except for maybe procuring the books needed.

But for students who say they hate to read, parents and children can be easily frustrated and feel helpless at the sound of those words. Here are some ideas to inspire reading for students of any age.

Choice: having a choice in what you read is important, especially for those who do not already love reading. This may be hard when schools assign books. However, there is still plenty of choices to be made

Allow children to choose when they want to read. For some children, you will have to give them options, but let it be their choice.

Allow children to choose where they read. If you find they have made a poor choice because they are distracted by something else, talk to them about it and ask them to choose again.

Allow them to quit the book before they finish and start a new one (if they have a choice in what book they read).

Make it Social: For many reading is a solitary activity. For those who do not like reading, this may be a deterrent to reading. To make reading more social you can:

  • Read the book as well so you can talk to them about it

  • Find other children that are reading the same book and get them together to chat--bring ice cream

  • Read aloud to them sometimes. Do not have them read to you too much. Many beginning readers find that stressful and often do not comprehend what they are reading because they are focused on being embarrassed and not messing up

Work on Comprehension

Some people do not enjoy reading because it is hard for them. If children do not understand what they are reading, it is obvious that reading will not be enjoyable. Here are some fun ways to work on reading comprehension.

  • Get a journal and have them write in it after each chapter/section.

  • If they hate writing too, ask them to draw. This is not the lesser of the two activities. Drawing is a wonderful comprehension tool.

  • If they own the book, teach them about marginalia-writing in your book! Or buy them

post-it notes. Marking up the book with questions, connections and predictions is a great way to increase comprehension

  • After they are done reading, ask them some questions about the book. What was the part you read today? What was your favorite part? What do you think will happen next and why? Be sure to have the book handy in case they do not remember. Referring back to the book is a great reading skill and a major expectation of academics.

  • Audiobooks! This is not cheating at all. It teaches children what good reading sounds like. Be sure to have them follow along in the book, however.

Supplement their reading

Oftentimes children do not enjoy reading because they do not have the background knowledge they need to understand the references in the book. If this is the case, use movies, TV shows and YouTube videos to build that knowledge.

Or maybe they are only interested in the part of the book about sports or animals or fashion. After they are finished with their daily reading, find other reading material or TV, movies or YouTube where they can learn more about those subtopics in the book.

Be sure to ask them to make connections between this new content and their book.

Share Your Reading Habits

Children and emerging readers need to know what good readers do. Share what it is you do when you read. Even share your weird idiosyncrasies.

It is rare that someone has no problems reading. Some of us can read fiction easily and struggle to read non-fiction or textbooks. Most people have to reread a paragraph every once in a while.

A beginning or hesitant reader who experiences these issues might see this as a sign of weakness and not a sign of being human.

Do not read this short blog and feel you have to have formal lessons with your children this summer in order to accomplish summer reading. It is quite the opposite. These suggestions above mostly boil down to one thing: talk to your kids about reading. It may surprise you how deep those conversations can go

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