Reading is an important, life long skill. The ability to read contributes to the ability to write, speak, and listen – all of which combine in the ability to communicate effectively. Aside from the practical, reading for fun can spark imagination and creativity, motivate logical and critical thinking, reveal new experiences to the reader, improve understanding and empathy, etc.
The fact that you’re reading this blog right now is proof that you enjoy reading! So how do you get your children hooked on books and stories? When is a good time to start? In a world filled with digital distractions, how do you encourage your children to drop the smart phone and pick up a juicy novel? (Read my sidebar on what I did and my differing approaches to engaging my two different children in reading.)
As children’s first and most important teachers, parents/caregivers play a vital role in motivating and encouraging children to read, especially during the summer months. There are many strategies families might employ to encourage summertime reading. Here are just a few gathered from my experience as a parent and from my friends:
My Personal Experience
Once I had children I knew I wanted to pass on my love of reading to them and couldn’t wait to share my favourites with them. It started as a nighttime ritual, reading to my girls before bed. In addition to reading books, I would tell them stories of adventures from my childhood. They soon had their favourite books for us to read to them. When they began to learn to read, they’d pick books to read to us!
Right around the time they reached intermediate grades, I thought they should seek out new books to read on their own, as well as books that we can read together. It took a while for both girls to find a book that caught their attention and caused them to fall in love with reading. For my oldest it was Rick Riordan’s Lightning Thief series. She then branched out and tried all sorts of genres of books. For my youngest, it took a lot longer to find that book that ignited her imagination. But she and I kept trying different authors and styles. We would visit the library often and try a variety of books. Finally, she found Veronica Roth’s series Divergent. She fell in love and away she went into the wonderful world of reading.
Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el
Everybody knows your typical dragon breathes fire. But when Crispin tries to breathe fire on his seventh birthday, fire doesn’t come out – only whipped cream! Each time Crispin tries to breathe fire, he ends up with… band-aids,… marshmallows,… teddy bears…? Crispin wonders if he’ll ever find his inner fire. But when a family emergency breaks out, it takes a little dragon with not so typical abilities to save the day.
This is a wonderfully illustrated book that encourages people of all ages to share their ideas and bring them to life.
It was the perfect summer. That is, until Jeremy Ross moved into the house down the street and became the neighbourhood’s enemy #1. Luckily Dad had a plan to get rid of enemies: enemy pie. But part of the secret recipe is spending an entire day playing with the enemy. Enemy Pie serves up a life lesson in the difficulties and rewards of making new friends.
When Big Momma makes the world, she doesn’t mess around. With a baby on her hip and laundry piling up, she demands light and dark, earth and sky, creepers and crawlers, and lots of folks to trade stories with on the front porch. And when the work is done, Big Momma is pleased all right. “That’s good,” she says. “That’s real good.”
When Kedi hears about America’s Great Depression from her teacher, her heart will not sit down. Men and women are unable to find work. Children are going hungry. In her teacher’s village of New York City, people are starving because they do not have money to buy food. But can one small girl in Africa’s Cameroon like Kedi make a difference all the way across the great Salt River in America?
Extra Yarn, an award-winning and New York Times bestseller, is the story of how a young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community.
Ordinary small acts of kindness can in fact change the world into a more loving place. This can inspire people of all ages to think about what we do in our daily lives that are deemed ordinary and yet have a positive impact.
- Your Public Library – most public libraries have their summer reading programs in full swing. Head down and get signed up. They will often include chances to win books and prizes. Plus, many local libraries schedule story time and other activities during their summer reading program.
Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge Activities (http://www.scholastic.ca/kids/stufftodo/) -- find quizzes, fun games, activities, downloads, and reading guides. You can also write a review. Scholastic has book recommendations and plenty of resources to help you motivate your kids to get reading this summer.
- Play Book Bingo (https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/kids-summer-reading/) – Indigo Kids also has a great summer reading guide divided by age and styles of writing like 12 Books to Read Before You’re 12 and Silly Reads.
- No Time for Flashcards Mission: Make Reading Fun 2015 Printables (http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2014/05/summer-reading-calendar-free-printables.html) – No Time for Flashcards is on a mission to keep your kids reading this summer. You’ll find printable calendars with a reading suggestion for each day such as “read a book that makes you laugh” or “read at the program.” Plus, follow along on Facebook for book recommendations and resource.
Children and Youth Minister
Shiloh-Sixth Avenue United Church