One of my favourite things to do is read! It was not difficult to convince me to join my elementary school book-of-the-month club. I remember being filled with excitement with the arrival of every new book that I could not wait to read. Two of my favourites that have survived the test of time are Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett.
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:
If you’re looking for book suggestions to kick-start your summer reading, here are a few favourite stories to share with children and are great for discussion:
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.
What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada
This is a wonderfully illustrated book that encourages people of all ages to share their ideas and bring them to life.
Enemy Pie (A Reading Rainbow Book) by Derek Munson
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.
Big Momma Makes the World (A Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winner) by Phyllis Root
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.”
My Heart Will Not Sit Down by Mara Rockliff
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 (A Caldecott Honor and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winner) by Mac Barnett
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 Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson
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.
Now that you’re equipped with tips on how to ignite the book worm inside of your child(ren) and book suggestions, how do you keep your child motivated? Summer reading programs and activities help motivate kids with reading incentives and provide accountability. Here are some options:
Children and Youth Minister
Shiloh-Sixth Avenue United Church
Summertime is a blessing. Time together with family and friends, a change of pace, sunshine, and play time in water and sun! However, with the sunshine can also come some uncomfortably hot summer days. Heat has an impact and children are particularly susceptible to the heat. Depending on how high temperatures climb, children (and all of us), if we are not careful, can experience heat related illness (heat stroke, sunburns, etc.). Here are 5 affordable ideas of beating the heat with children!
1. Stay Hydrated - One of the most important things we need to remember is that our bodies need to be hydrated in order to function properly. Make sure that you and your children have access to water at all times. Have water bottles filled with ice and water, water coolers at arm's reach at all times. And water can be fun and flavourful! Check out these easy recipes to make healthy and naturally flavoured water: http://greatist.com/health/flavored-water-healthy-recipe.
2. Make Frozen Treats with your children. Freeze and then enjoy: frozen grapes, watermelon, berries, bananas or make homemade popsicles. Check out these frozen delectable treats: http://www.superhealthykids.com/recipe-category/popsicles-and-frozen-treats/.
3. Limit Time Outside - As much as being outside is fun, be conscious of sun and heat exposure. Visit the library and sit in their air conditioned buildings and immerse your child in the adventure of the stories! Support your local artistic, cultural, historical or scientific institution by visiting a museum. (The Happy Show is currently exhibiting at the Museum of Vancouver.) At many museums children 4 and under get in for free and there are family rates. Inside, children will learn and enjoy while staying out of the sun!
4. Go for a Splash - Be it at the beach, at an indoor or outdoor pool, be it in the tub even! Bring your temperature down by taking a dip. Did you know that all the outdoor pools in Surrey are free? Click here to find a pool in Surrey near you.
5. Stay Still - It is hard to suggest with a child but when it is hot, exerting a lot of energy can be problematic. Young children in particular heat up more quickly than adults and are at greater risk of heat-induced illnesses. Promote more low-energy activities; bring out the board games, the books, imaginative play, and dare I say, watch a movie?? You could also bring out the creativity materials - make pictures to send to friends and family, maybe even think about and create some Christmas gifts. Pinterest is chock-a-block full of creative ideas!
Minister with Children, Families & Elders
St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church