Keeping kids reading during the summer is important. We want to encourage our kids to read and to enjoy it, but we need to strike a fine balance between making it optional and making it mandatory. The following tips come to us via ADDitude Magazine. While these tips are aimed at children with ADD/ADHD, they apply to all kids.
Summer reading shouldn’t feel like homework. Leisure reading improves both vocabulary and comprehension. The key word is “leisure.” Don’t turn reading at home into a classroom exercise. Encourage your child to read for pleasure.
Of course, reading for pleasure shouldn’t be relegated to the summer. This is a habit that should be encouraged all year round. Encourage relatives to give gift certificates or gift cards to book stores for Christmas/Hannukah or birthday presents. Visit the library at least twice a month all year long.
Set a good example: Be a bookworm family. Natalie is a struggling reader, but she is motivated to read anyway. I believe, and research supports, that watching her big brother, Aaron, and me read for fun is the reason.Use reading comprehension exercises to boost skills. Kids with ADD/ADHD and LD may need help from parents to acquire decoding skills, fluency, and comprehension. Have your child read short passages aloud, and ask him questions about what he’s read. Encourage him to summarize what’s happening in the story, and to predict what will happen next. Ask him to re-read difficult passages. Good readers do these things automatically, but children who lose focus easily need adult guidance. Natalie likes to play teacher, and asks me to predict what will happen when we read stories together.
Model reading for your kids. Have a print-rich home filled with newspapers, magazines, and books. Let your kids see you reading for pleasure, reading for information, and reading to de-stress.
fMore importantly, when asking kids about what they have read, don’t focus solely on efferent questions — the who, what, when, why, where, and how. We often ask these questions to determine if kids have actually read the book, but there’s a better way. Instead, ask aesthetic questions about the book: Do you like this story so far? Do you like this character or these characters? Have you read any other books by this author? Do you think you’ll like how this book turns out? If you were telling this story, what would you change?
Such questions go beyond simply finding out if a child has read the book, but encourage them to interact with it.
Read at the right level. Books should fit a child’s reading level. Ask your librarian or bookstore staff to recommend appropriate books, or select books with the level of difficulty displayed on the front or back cover. Or try this test: Open a prospective book to any page, and have your child start reading. Count the words she can’t read. If there are fewer than five, the book’s a keeper. Five or more? Keep looking.
This is the one tip I disagree with. I think kids shouldn’t be contained within their “reading level,” because if they aren’t reading books which actually tax their abilities, they aren’t going to move beyond where they are. Their reach should exceed their grasp. But if you are working with a child who is easily frustrated when a book is too difficult, this is a good guideline. The best bet is to encourage kids to read at a variety of reading levels, so they are challenged at times, comfortable at other times, and just get a break. (Remember, People magazine is written at about a sixth-grade reading level, which may help explain its popularity. Everyone needs a break from Anna Karenina once in a while.)
Reading quantity counts. There’s a strong relationship between the number of books read and a child’s improvement in reading ability. Reading at least four or five books each summer produces big skill-saving. Let your child choose books that fit his interests. Garfield — or, in Natalie’s case, Captain Underpants — is as effective in sharpening reading skills as are more serious books. Popular series — Harry Potter and others — are especially good at keeping children reading.
Now we’re talking. Don’t worry about whether kids are reading at their “reading level,” but instead, focus on whether their reading at their “interest level.” Are they reading something because they enjoy it, or because they feel they have to read it? Keep in mind that kids will often get stuck in a certain genre or book series, but once they have gleaned everything from it that they can, they will eventually move one. A good way to do this is to encourage kids to keep lists of books they’ve read. (Nancie Atwell mentions this in her book The Reading Zone.)
Try reading aloud or listen to audio books. Sometimes Natalie will bring home a book that is popular with classmates, but that is too hard for her to read. There are ways, though, for her to have her book and “read” it, too. Kids are never too old to be read aloud to, and they can benefit from following along as you read. Natalie and I enjoyed the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series together this way. Or you can pair an audio book with the print version, and let your child read silently along with the narrator.
Hey, even Stephen King enjoys listening to audiobooks. They’re a good alternative to talk radio on a long drive, and most can be downloaded to an .mp3 player and enjoyed anywhere.
Of course, one of the best things we can do for our children is to continue to read to them even after they’ve graduated out of footy pajamas. And of course, we should encourage them to read out loud to us, as well.
What are your favorite summer reading suggestions (either titles or strategies)? Drop a line and let us know.Except for material released under a Creative Commons license, all material is ©2018 Kenneth John Odle, All Rights ReservedPermalink for this article: