Summer is here! Kids are out of school and they have lots of free time on their hands. If your kids are like my son, they gravitate towards electronic games and videos for entertainment. While there is nothing wrong with an occasional family game night on the Wii, one of your goals this summer should be to get your child or children reading! I remember how my mom used to take me to the public library. We didn’t have much money to buy books, but I had read hundreds as a child, anyhow. My dad would save the “funnies” from the newspaper for me and I think that even this small gesture contributed to my life-long love of reading.
Studies show that children who read at home perform better on standardized tests and read at a higher grade level than their peers. Children need the mental stimulation that reading provides in order to retain the knowledge that they attained during the school year. Clearly, there are benefits to reading, but how can you get your child off of the game systems and into a good book? Try one or more of the five suggestions below. Your child will not only read, he or she will enjoy it, too!
1. Summer Reading Clubs
Local libraries and school districts host reading programs every summer. These programs offer incentives to children (and adults) who read over the summer and document the books that they’ve read. The Houston Public Library hosts a summer reading program for kids and teens that spans from June 1st to August 1st. Participants can earn free books, Astros tickets, and tickets to the circus. Check with your local library or school district to see if a similar program is being offered.
E-Readers such as the Amazon Kindle have been on the market for a while, but the new technological innovations are making these e-readers more affordable and kid-friendly. The Barnes and Noble Nook is a full-color e-reader that definitely appeals to children. Small kids can read picture books in full color and teens can read their favorite magazines. Adults can get in on the action, too, as the Nook offers a wide range of novels and other types of print media. Nooks are a bit pricey, but there are free e-reader options. Amazon Kindle and Google Books offer free applications that can be downloaded to the family PC or smart phone. Your teen may stop texting for a few minutes to flip through a book on his or her smartphone. Consider using an e-reader to get your child interested in reading this summer.
3. Family Book Club
If technology is not your thing, consider forming a good old-fashioned family book club! Choose books that your kids are interested in, such as vampire novels or anime and read them with them. You don’t have to sit with them and read, of course. Grab a copy of one of their favorites from the local library or bookstore and read it. Pick a time to sit down and discuss it, maybe at a local coffee shop or right in your own living room. Not only does the family book club concept give you an opportunity to bond with your child, you will also be leading by example. Once your kids see you reading, they’ll be more likely to read as well.
4. Publish Your Own Book
Self-publishing doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, it can be fun! Online software by StoryJumper makes creating, illustrating, and publishing your children’s book a breeze! Prices start at only $24.95. Teachers have been hip to this concept for years, often using such platforms to publish a book with their classes. Your little ones will love the chance to be create and bring their stories to life, while your older kids will embrace the opportunity to become a published author.
5. Make Connections
A last simple, but not so obvious option is to make a real-life connection. My son loves books about science and technology. I can feed his natural interest by taking him to the science museum or taking a walk outside to look at the stars. This simple connection (reading to real life) is a big incentive for him to develop a passion not only for reading, but for life-long learning. What are your kids interested in? How can you connect their natural interests to reading? Let them lead you. If your kids like gaming, buy them books and magazines about gaming. It’s not so much the subject matter, but the time spent reading, that matters most. Let’s face it – almost any published writing is better than text-talk.
These five simple suggests can improve your child’s summer and his or her reading comprehension for the better. Try them out and let me know how they work out!