A few weeks ago I was standing with some neighborhood moms in the middle of the street at about 8pm at night while our kids ran from yard to yard playing sports, riding bikes, chasing fireflies all in their barefoot, shirtless, popsicle-faced glory. Summer night perfection (which is pretty much every night in our neighborhood). And then one of the moms mentioned it: Reading Time. We immediately all exchanged guilty looks. By the time we round our kids up, settle them down, bathe them (totally necessary), when is there time to squeeze in reading time during the summer months? Yeah. Summer reading was definitely not happening as it should be….
Later that night, when the kids were asleep and the mom guilt really starts to set it, I got to thinking. Earlier this year I met a reading consultant who seemed to have pretty solid reading routines going on in her household. And by routine, I mean, that this mama of three reads with her kids A LOT. Like hours throughout the day. And while that is not expected nor practical for every household (this girl right here is aiming for a solid 20 minutes!), I knew that she would be able to offer us moms standing in the street who should have given the “5 minute” warning to our kids 45 minutes ago a few tips to make that summer reading actually happen.
Without further adieu, I would like you all to meet Caroline who is an educational consultant with Usborne Books. She has curated a list of 7 summer reading tips that will get us all back on track! At the end, you will also have the opportunity to shop for some awesome summer reading books which is a fun activity to do WITH your kids. There’s nothing like a hand picked book arriving in the mail to spark a little summer reading action. This I know from personal experience….. (And we love Usborne books! My kids are big fans of the Hey Jack series, the lift-the-flap books – especially Big Book of the Body (the one with the “poop flap”), and I am also looking to try out the audio books for something fun/new). Ok, handing this over to Caroline…..
MOM can mean many things– mother, of course, but also Mother of One or More, Mama Of Many, Mom of Multiples….you get the idea. Moms, as a whole, ROCK. Yet as summer arrives, we may find ourselves feeling a bit, well, un-awesome. With the freedom of summer comes the chaos of new routines (or total lack of routine). How can we support our childrens’ reading development without squelching the joy of summer? The dreaded summer slide– when children drop 2 or so reading levels– CAN be avoided, all while maintaining a fun and carefree summer. Promise. With a smidge of effort and a teeny-weeny bit of forethought, you can grow your child’s enthusiasm for books and learning. Follow the tips below to promote literacy and creativity all summer long. Enjoy!
Summer Reading Tips
1. Introduce your child to a variety of TYPES of books. Show your child that books need not be passive! There are so many different KINDS of books available– picture books, narrative stories like fairy tales and myths, chapter books, non-fiction “fact” books with tidbits of information, journals, “write your own” books, puzzle books, cook books, comic books, graphic novels, things-to-spot books, poetry books, history books, and let’s not forget magazines! The list goes on and on. Many young children are not exposed to history and science books at their level– make an effort to find such books if your child is interested. Finding the topic/style that grabs your child and making it available is the #1 way to get them into reading.
2. Make reading a priority. We all know we should be setting a reading “routine,” but what does that really mean? First, find a time of day that often works for reading– for us, this is first thing in the morning. And as much as it kills me to delay my coffee, my kids BEG me to read to them when they wake up. What better way to wake then to snuggle in tight, big kid on each side and toddler on your lap, while reading stories?
3. Make books accessible by having them everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Baskets on the floor in the playroom and bathroom, on shelves in the living room and bedrooms, a few stacked on the couch, a couple in the kitchen…if they see them, they will open them. Finally, model that reading is a treat, and not a chore. A favorite at our house is bribery–”If you behave during the long drive, you can pick out a new book!” or “You guys were so kind to each other today, you can each pick out an extra story before bed.” Model a love of reading by reading in front of them yourself. They are watching shows? Grab your book or magazine, and read next to them on the couch. Tell them about what you are reading, and be interested in what they are reading. These habits will stick with them and instill a love of reading!
4. Keep reading out loud. As obvious as it sounds, this is a tip that most do not appreciate. Once children can read to themselves, most parents leave them to it. But it is essential to continue reading aloud to them. Children understand books well above their reading level. Reading higher level books aloud introduces new vocabulary, more complex language patterns, and improves the child’s reading comprehension skills. If your child is resistant, audiobooks are a great option. Listen in the car, while you’re cooking dinner, or have them listen independently while you tend to a younger sibling. On a related note, it is wonderful to also have your child practice reading out loud–take turns reading pages of a book at their reading level, or have your child read to a younger sibling. Making reading a positive, interactive experience will help your child become a lifelong reader.
5. Write! Writing is an essential part of reading development, and this can be started at a young age. With your younger kids, make a book together using their drawings or pictures from magazines to create a story. Ask your child to dictate the story, and you write it down in the book. With slightly older children, make a scrapbook of the summer, in which they draw or simply write about what they’ve enjoyed each day/week/month. Put it together into a book with some decoration and voila! Your child will be proud of his creation and you’ll have worked on handwriting, spelling, sentence structure, and story building all at once. Finally, encourage your older children to journal. Some children love doing this in a blank book, while others may need a book with prompts. For the latter, find a book that has a question or topic of the day that they fill out each night before dinner or before bed. This creative outlet lets your child explore their own writing style and can be used to create lifelong keepsakes.
6. Document reading achievements. Children love seeing their hard work recognized, especially if there is glitter or stickers involved. Post a (decorated) list of books they’ve read (and how many pages they were!) on the fridge or in their rooms, and add to it throughout the summer. For the resistant reader, a “prize” for a certain number of pages read can be helpful. For the avid reader, introduce a “book journal”– let your child select a beautiful lined journal and keep track of all the books he or she has read, along with any comments they would like to add. This can again be a lifelong keepsake or even a hand-me-down to their own child one day! If a younger sibling likes this idea but cannot write yet, make a digital version of this list by pasting pictures of books you’ve read together into a powerpoint or word document, and insert your child’s comments. Print this out at the end of the summer and your child will be so proud to show it to their former year’s teacher!
7. Keep it fun! Keep your summer reading routine casual and fun, and I guarantee your child will be a more enthusiastic and confident reader.
As an Educational Consultant with Usborne Books & More, I spend a lot of time working with schools, libraries, and other educational organizations talking about literacy, curricula, and student interests. I have an endless love for Usborne & Kane Miller books, and picking a few favorites is hard. So here is a list of a few of my favorites selected to work with the tips I’ve recommended above; please feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] if you’d like more personalized recommendations!
A Few of My Favorite Books:
Picture books with great lessons– A Tale of Two Beasts, Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster, Blue Whale Blues
Interactive & fun picture books– All Better, Muddle & Match series, Nibbles
Collected Stories– Big Book of Little Stories, Illustrated Fairy Tales, Illustrated Greek Myths
Chapter books– Fairy Ponies series, Pet Vet series, Impossible Quest series
Read-together books (specific parts for child to read and parent to read)- Complete Book of Farmyard Tales with CD (audio stories!), Very First Reading Set
Non-fiction “lift the flap” books– Peek Inside the Garden, Q&A How do Flowers Grow, Look Inside Our World, Q&A About Our World, See Inside the Body (amazing book!!)
General non-fiction books– My Very First Space Book, Beginners Series Castles (but all of them are amazing, and only $4.99 each! Hardcover!), Big Book of Big Bugs, 100 Things to Know About Science, The Story of Inventions
Graphic Novel design – Mythical 9th Division series, Wheelnuts series, Discovery Adventures series (Survival, Deadly Animals, Drones…)
Things-to-Spot books– Very First Book of Things to Spot, Zoo Picture Puzzle Book, 1001 Animals to Spot, 1001 Things to Spot on Vacation
Journaling/writing books– A Year in My Life (daily prompts), My First Story Writing Book
Feature books– Shine-a-Light series (seriously, CHECK THESE OUT– child uses a flashlight to reveal hidden images on each page!), Wind-up books (tracks on each page with a moving toy!)
Activity books– Astronauts Sticker Book, Big Wipe-Clean Activity Book, Big Book of Drawing, Doodling, and Coloring, 100 Paper Spaceships to Fold & Fly
If you’d like to place an order you can SHOP HERE. All books purchased will also help Lindsey earn books for her family!
And if you’d like to host an online or in-person Usborne book party to earn TONS of free books, please contact me directly at [email protected]