Getting kids to read in the summer is incredibly important. Here are some creative ways to make reading fun.
While school may be out during the summer, this doesn’t mean that kids’ brains should take a total break. In fact, the summer is a critical time for parents to help their kids increase their vocabulary and improve their reading skills. An article written by Hoover and Gough, “The Simple View of Reading” states that while reading is a complex process, strong reading comprehension “simply” consisted of two components, decoding and linguistic competence/oral language comprehension, which parents can nurture.
Parents who take the time to build language skills with their children are building a foundation for their child to succeed in school. In the book, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children, Betty Hart and Todd Risley share their findings that by the age of 5 children from impoverished language environments had heard 32 million fewer words spoken to them than the average middle class child. In addition, the vocabulary used by a child at age 3 is predictive of their language at ages 9 and 10.
Marjorie Getz, PhD, Learning and Behavior Specialist, at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, IL, says, “Talking and reading to children are so important. I love to walk into a home and see books everywhere and children and parents talking about books.”
Helping your child love reading won’t just happen overnight, but summer is a great time to start habits that develop lifelong readers. A simple way to start is when your child is young and you can read out loud to them. In the summer, take a book to the park, the beach or even your backyard. Picking a new location makes reading seem exciting.
Getz also encourages parents to bring their children to the local library. Libraries frequently offer reading programs which set reading goals for kids and reward them for achieving these goals. Story time and other events based around books like book mobiles, storybook walks and author readings are also fun ways for kids to be exposed to books, while helping them become more interested in reading.
“When parents go to the library with their children, it creates a great opportunity for parents to model good reading habits by choosing books to read for themselves,” says Getz. “As their children get older, parents can also read the same books as their children and they can discuss the book together.”
In addition to library visits, Getz has found that kids can also benefit from reading in less traditional ways. These include:
- Reading magazines. Purchasing magazine subscriptions which focus on topics which interest the kids. Popular choices include Sports Illustrated for Kids, Highlights for Children, Time for Kids or National Geographic.
- Reading on your road trip. Have kids read signs and billboard posted along the roadside while you are driving. Kids can also listen to a book on tape instead of watching a video.
- Making a summer scrapbook. While cutting out the photos and gluing them down is a lot of fun, having kids write captions and read them back is a great way to encourage them to read.
Getz believes that there are many benefits to summer reading. One benefit is that the students return to school ahead of where they were when school ended in the spring, not only in their reading and language skills, but also in their knowledge, as while younger children learn to read, older children read to learn. A second benefit is that summer reading, without the pressures of the reading demands of school, helps to pique children’s interest in reading, and nurture a lifelong love of reading.
For more reading activities visit LD Online or contact your local library for information on their programs.