As a former teacher, I know that summer reading can help children maintain and improve their reading and writing skills and encourage a lifelong love of literature. As a parent, summer reading is a way for my child and I to bond and for me to become more involved in my child's education. My sentiments as a parent and a former teacher seem miles away from the responses children have to summer reading. "Boo! Why do we have homework over the summer?"
Summer reading doesn't have to be a chore. Parents have the opportunity to make summer reading spectacular for their children this year.
Book Clubs with Friends
Part of the fun of reading as an adult is discussing what I've read. It's the reason many women belong to book clubs. Reading doesn't have to be done in isolation. Coordinate with other classroom parents and put together a summer reading book club. Children can get together weekly or biweekly to talk about what their reading. Consider meeting at a local library or alternating between homes. Let the book club double as a play date or a babysitting co-op. The hosting parent can provide a craft related to the reading for younger children, or a few questions for older kids to talk about.
Incorporate the Arts
Take summer reading out of the pages of a book this year. For young children, bringing the arts into literature can help make their reading come to life. Even older elementary and middle school children can benefit from arts and crafts activities that focus on reading. Create a map (3-D for the creative parents in the bunch) with your children to help them understand the layout Hogwarts or Narnia. Draw posters advertising your own made-up word if your child read "Frindle." Many books will have study guides or information on additional activities online, especially those summer reading staples.
Family Reading Night
Do you regularly have family movie or game nights? Trade them out for family reading night during the summer months. Get into your pajamas, get out some blankets, pop some popcorn, and get reading. Whether you're reading aloud to younger children, or simply reading alongside your older kids, family reading night can show your children the importance of literature. Ask older kids to read aloud a portion of their summer reading book when they come across something they like. Feel free to do the same!
Consider small treats to celebrate small summer reading milestones along the way. Has your child finished the first of three books? Did they read their first chapter book? Make a chart of several summer reading milestones you'd like to have them reach in a timely fashion. This will help them stay on track and avoid leaving all of their reading until the last minute. Small, attainable reading goals will make the task seem much more manageable. Do something fun with your child to celebrate each milestone. Ice cream at a local shop or a movie on an especially hot summer day are both great ideas.
End-of-Summer Reading Party
Instead of a Labor Day BBQ or an end-of-summer party, plan a celebration to mark the end of your child's summer reading list! Consider a water party, at either a local pool or with inflatable pools, slides, and sprinklers in your own backyard. Invite your child's past or future classmates, or just a few close friends. This is a great way to celebrate the completion of summer reading and the exciting new school year ahead.
Summer reading as homework? Bah! Get creative with your child's summer reading list. The possibilities are endless.
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