Summer is winding down for most American kids; it’s hard to believe that some are going back now, and others have up to a few more weeks at most. While I have enough daily tips left to keep this going until long after Labor Day, I am going to close out this series by consolidating my remaining tips into several posts with multiple tips per post. If you’re looking for a few extra end of summer ideas for encouraging reading and writing, hopefully some of these will appeal to you and your kiddos! While brevity is difficult for me, I will do my best to write abbreviated versions of each tip to try to control the length of these last few posts. If you have any questions on implementation or want elaboration, please comment on the blog and I’ll try to respond.
Tip #42. Dads — get involved in your kids’ summer reading, especially if you have boys!
Make an effort to read for pleasure in front of your kids, to read aloud to your kids, to talk about their summer reading, and to take them to the library or bookstore. Data show that dads are significantly less likely than moms to do all of these as well as significantly less likely to do any of these than they are to watch sports with their boys! Fathers who do read with their sons have sons who read more and score higher on reading achievement tests. When dads connect with their boys over reading, the impact can be tremendous.
Tip #43. Motivate summer reading by celebrating reading in a special way.
Three ideas include:
1. Have a “stay in our PJs and read” day/morning.
2. Announce that the family is going to a “mystery reading destination”. “Grab your bags, we’re going somewhere to read”. Pick somewhere that will excite the kids, grab book bags and books, and go! I’ve even heard of one family who does this one morning every week of summer, and the kids eagerly anticipate each new mystery destination.
3. Host a read-a-thon. Let the kids invite a few friends who all bring books, set a reading goal (i.e., read for an hour), and start reading. When the time is over, everyone shares what they read while enjoying a treat. Add a twist by collecting donations for pages or minutes read and giving the proceeds to a local charity.
Tip #44: Take advantage of your remaining homework-free evenings and involve your kids in some of the mealtime cooking (and of course, tie in some reading as well).
Give kids guidelines and let them search for (online or in recipe books) and select the specific recipes to use. Read the recipe aloud, and follow the instructions together. If you can, take the time to let the experience build relevant math skills as well as vocabulary (even looking up words for unknown ingredients and tools). Click here for School Library Journal’s terrific list of cooking books made specifically for kids.
Tip #45: Inspire kids (especially reluctant readers) to read so that they can accomplish an activity or task that interests them.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get kids to read for the sake of reading. However, when reading is required in order to do something fun, interesting, or meaningful, kids are more likely to embrace it without question. Using their interests as a guide, talk with your kids about things they would like to build, create, make, test, or play. Then, look for nonfiction “how-to” books (public libraries usually have a ton) that can be read aloud together or independently and used as a guide for achieving their goals. Examples include craft books, books of magic tricks, science experiment books, books about how to build different types of things, cookbooks, and even step-based books for playing computer games or apps such as the Minecraft handbooks (e.g., Minecraft: Essential Handbook: An Official Mojang Book is the first one in a set of four). One great series that my kids have enjoyed is the Hands-On Science Fun books, which are great how-to science books for preschool through first graders. Titles include How to Make a Liquid Rainbow (Lori Shores), How to Make a Bouncing Egg (Jennifer Marks), How to Make Slime (Lori Shores), How to Build a Fizzy Rocket (Lori Shores), and How to Make a Mystery Smell Balloon (Lori Shores). Another set of books that my son has had fun with is the Build It Yourself books by Tammy Enz, which include Build Your Own Periscope, Flashlight, and Other Useful Stuff; Build Your Own Car, Rocket, and Other Things that Go; Build Your Own Fort, Igloo, and Other Hangouts; and Build Your Own Mini Golf Course, Lemonade Stand, and Other Things to Do. Doesn’t reading sound purposeful with titles like these?