As the summer months roll by, we swiftly find our time swept away with play dates, summer camps, movie nights and impromptu celebrations. How can we find the time to pick up a book, let alone make sure our kids continue to read?
Reading has many benefits, including expanding our worldview, increasing vocabulary and offering an imaginative escape from day-to-day life.
For children, consistently reading can be especially valuable, but in the summer months, it becomes more challenging as schedules fill up with other things. Reading is often neglected, but it’s important for children to read for at least 15 minutes per day to keep their reading level consistent with what it was in June.
Here are five tips to keep yourself and your child reading during summer:
Let them choose the books
Research has shown that children will read more and enjoy reading more if they have an input into which books they read. This can be difficult for parents, especially as the range of books available at libraries expands into comic books, action-heavy reads and an endless selection of books about fairy princesses.
It is tempting to choose books for your children but at least some of the time, they should choose which books to read for themselves. One way to do this is to let them choose three books at the library and you choose one. This way they will still get the variety of literature that is important to becoming a strong reader but will also feel in control.
The Five Finger Rule
1. Have your child choose a book they’re interested in.
2. Open it to the second page and have them hold up a finger for every word they are unsure of or do not know.
3. If there are five or more words they did not know, they should choose an easier book.
By using this simple test, it will help ensure that your child is reading “Just Right” books, or books that are at their current reading level.
Have a consistent routine – pick a time to read every day
This is true both for summer months as well as the general school year, but having a time of day that is designated as “reading time” will help children focus on reading and enjoy reading more. Choose a time of day where children naturally start to lose energy or settle down, like right after dinner, before bed or in the morning.
Picking the same or similar time every day will help reduce the struggle of trying to get them to read if they happen to be reluctant readers. Having a specific reading time will also help children prime themselves for reading and start to look forward to it.
Children benefit both from reading to themselves as well as having someone read to them. This is true for young children but continues to hold up in research as they get older. Children of all ages are interested and engaged when read to by someone else. In addition to having children read their own books, have a special book that you read to them, one that might be a level or so above their current reading level.
This would be a great way for them to “read” a book that did not pass the Five Finger Rule. Reading aloud is fun, gives your child a strong reading role model, introduces them to new vocabulary and provides an educational opportunity for continued bonding.
It also lends an easy segue to talking about books and stories, particularly visualizing and what people “see” in their heads when they read.
If your child would rather read on their own, help role model reading by being a reader yourself, setting aside that same time per day to read your own book so children can see you reading too.
Keep track of books read and set a goal or join a summer reading program
Many city libraries offer a summer reading program for children that require them to read a certain number of books and earn prizes, stickers and stamps for goals met. Some cities offer a medal if children complete the library’s goal for a summer of reading. These programs can be great motivators for children to read, as they can tangibly see how much they’ve read and how many books they need to read to reach the next milestone.
Across the province, the theme for libraries’ summer reading programs is focused around a “Build It!” model this year, but each district has different guidelines for how many books or days children need to read to earn stickers and medals.
Fraser Valley (Langley, Abbotsford, Delta, Maple Ridge) reading program:
For the Fraser Valley Regional Library’s 2015 Summer Reading Club, there is no required sign-up date, but in order to earn a medal, children need to read for five weeks by the time summer is over, so it would be best if children started the program by late July. Children earn a sticker for every seven days they read, regardless of how many books they read.
The FVRL also offers an Adult Summer Reading Club, where adults can earn entries for draws if they read over the summer months.
More information, including a list of cities that belong to the FVRL can be found at www.fvrl.bc.ca
Summer reading is a good practice for anyone in the sunny months, providing for a relaxing break in an otherwise busy, activity-filled day. Try to read consistently with no distractions for at least 15 minutes per day.
Written by Alix Juillet – an elementary school teacher, wedding photographer and traveler. Follow her journey on Instagram/Twitter at @alixjuillet.