The important for STARs (Space, Time, Access to books, Ritual) for summer reading (See Tip #7) is just as important during your summer travel if you are hoping for the kids to keep up their summer reading. Here are 5 things to keep in mind to facilitate reading while on vacation:
- When you first arrive, immediately unpack your books and other materials for reading and writing if you brought any. So often books never even make it out of the suitcase (e.g., “We were so busy, we never found the time.”), which likely means even our best laid plans for vacation reading never come to fruition.
- Consider finding a spot for the books (and writing materials if you brought some) as important as figuring out a place to put your clothes (or more important if you live out of your suitcase!). If possible, find a spot that makes the books and writing tools visible — the more obvious they are, the more likely it is that reading and writing will occur.
- Help your kids figure out a special “vacation reading spot” that is cozy or otherwise appealing. A cozy chair, a balcony with a view, a hammock. Is there a particular spot that might make reading while on vacation particularly fun?
- If the kids are unlikely to read automatically on their own while on vacation, see if you can agree on some protected ritualized family reading time — reading aloud or independently. Some obvious options are early morning before the day gets going, later afternoon in between the day’s activities and dinner, and of course bedtime. If you agree on a time for reading, parents you must get on board with your own reading as well!
- Just as taking books on the go is important all summer long (part of the “A” in STARs), when you’re on vacation also encourage the kids to take along a book or travel journal when venturing out (i.e., to the pool, the beach, a hike, etc). It is only possible that kids take a break from vacation activities and read (or write) if kids have the necessary materials to do so.
Some of this might sound trivial, but without summer vacation STARs, it is unlikely that kids will read on vacation . And, setting the stage for literacy behaviors to occur when traveling really only takes a few extra minutes!
In Our Family… We’re currently vacationing in the Dominican Republic, and the very first thing I unpacked were the books. I asked the kids for help with finding a good spot to put all the books, where they will be very visible. We ended up finding a low table and set up piles of reading materials for each family member, and we devoted the desk in our hotel room to be a space for writing/drawing supplies. We also rarely leave the hotel room w/out a “just in case book” for each of us, which results in much more vacation reading than would otherwise happen.