Being an avid reader, I always read to my children and encouraged them to read. I wanted them to love the books that I had loved. This sometimes worked and often didn’t. My daughters enjoyed Dr. Seuss and the original Winnie the Pooh, however, Little Women just didn’t do it for them. When they were in middle school, they were into dystopian future, which was all the rage. The important thing about reading for pleasure is that everyone needs to choose their own books, especially as they are getting older.
The very best way to keep up reading and writing skills is to read for pleasure. This is because while reading correct grammar and spelling, flowing paragraphs, and enticing plots, you are absorbing it all. Then when you write, you will know how to spell, construct sentences, and create a story. Your reading fluency will increase, leading to better comprehension of all assigned reading for school – science, history, and even math word problems. As you take time each day to work on academic skills this summer, worksheets may be a chore, but reading captivating books should be something to look forward to.
Here are some ways to incorporate pleasure reading into your summer:
Make good use of the library
Librarians are your friends. They can show you books that are trending in different age groups and recommend books based on your children’s interests. You can check out a bunch of books, and if some are no-goes, no problem. Also, many libraries have popular summer reading incentive programs.
Choose books at an independent reading level
An independent reading level means the book is fun to read and not too difficult. It is fine to get books below grade level if that is what your child chooses. An instructional reading level is the level for school and work with with a tutor, with more difficult words and themes.
Explore different genres
There are so many genres and topics that may interest your child – history, science, biography, graphic novels, historical fiction, realistic fiction, science fiction, and of course, dystopian future. There are books out there that will engage even the most reluctant readers.
Have family reading time
Children are more likely to do what their parents model than what their parents tell them to do. Set 20 minutes each evening for everyone to sit down and read. Magazines and newspapers count, too. Another option is to incorporate reading time into your children’s bedtime routine, and cozy up with a good book.
Listen to recorded books
Our family spent many road trips listening to books everyone enjoyed. Some of the narrators are the actual authors, such as Trevor Noah’s memoir Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood and several of Henry Winkler’s children’s books.
Follow an author or series
Following a series is like following a sit-com. You already know the characters and look forward to their next adventures. You can also read other books by an author you like.
Read out loud
Most of us read to our children when they are young, but many of us stop once they learn to read. However, children will still enjoy and learn from being read to for years to come. When they are beginning readers, you can encourage them by alternating reading pages out loud. This gives them a break and allows them to hear how to read with expression. You can also help them sound out and guess the meaning of challenging words. Also, older children can read to younger children or their pets, benefiting both.
Read the same book as your children
Then you can discuss the characters, plot, and themes, as well as choices the characters made and their impacts. Even if you are reading different books, you can each discuss what is happening in your own book.
Visit neighborhood book stores
It is so much fun to visit different neighborhood book stores while on trips. While you can choose books online, there is a special feeling to handling the books and reading samples at the book stores. Barnes and Noble, with several locations in the DMV area, has a robust section for children and teens.
Find used books online
There are many online sites that sell inexpensive used and bargain books. Let your children pick out their own, but be prepared for them to not be into a book that has been purchased. Give the book a chance, but no one should be forced to finish a book they are not into.
Start a book group
You can have a mother-daughter book group, a family book group, or a book group with friends and neighbors. One member can be in charge of leading a discussion and another in charge of hosting. Don’t forget the snacks.
Enjoy your summer and your books!
By Cheryl Gedzelman, President, Tutoring For Success