The fear of many teachers and parents is that their children will not retain the content and skills they have learned throughout the school year they just finished. While summer can be a fun and relaxing time for the whole family, help your kids stay sharp over the summer with a well-balanced diet of reading!
Build a Reading Foundation
Supporting your children at school begins by building a solid foundation of reading at home. Take the opportunities provided by a relaxed summer schedule to focus on the joys of reading with your kids. It doesn’t need to be super serious – concentrate on creating a balance between reading that’s challenging and thought-provoking with the kind that provides easy laughter and fun.
Another way to create a reading balance is to allow your kids time to read with you and to you. Using this quality time to snuggle together with a book, challenge your children to read as much as you do, trading sentences, paragraphs or pages aloud depending on your child’s age and ability. In addition, provide your children time to read to themselves while you read a book of your choice – this is a great way to relax during warm summer afternoons!
Focus on Favorites
When I was about ten years old, I was fascinated by ghost stories and Billy the Kid. I read everything I could find on these subjects, fueling my interest and creating an ideal environment for me to read and learn.
Before heading out to the library or the bookstore, help your kids to take inventory of their own interests. So much of what they learn in school is required – this is a unique opportunity for your kids to read about what specifically interests them. Once you arrive at the library, take this opportunity to teach them how to navigate the shelves to find what they’re looking for.
A Healthy Reading Diet
My boys – ages 6 and 9 – love to read comic books, but allowing them to read only comics would be like letting them eat sugar all day long. While it’s important for kids to read about what interests them, approach reading like a balanced diet – while I might read a fluffy, lighter book one week during the summer, I follow that up with a notable work of literature.
Make a deal with your children that for every book they pick out to read, you get to suggest one for them to read with you. Though they might resist, your kids will find themselves interested in the books you choose before they know it!
Back to Classics
If you’re not sure what books to suggest, stick with the classics. Think back to your favorite books while growing up and share these with your kids – the memories you create through doing this will be invaluable. Some of the favorite books and authors I have shared with my own children include:
- Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
- Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
- Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
- The Complete Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
- Any books by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary also make this list!
Another option is to stick with Newbery winners, which tend to be high-quality and worth reading. The Newbery award is handed out each year by the Association for Library Service, a division of the American Library Association, and recognizes outstanding literature for children. A comprehensive list of Newbery books can be found here – don’t be overwhelmed, any of these books will be worth the read!
Kelly Wilson is a freelance writer, former teacher and busy mom. For more ways to help your kids stay healthy this summer, contact Dr. Melissa Beadnell, a Dentist in Hillsdale, Oregon. at Beadnell Family Dentistry.