What is the big deal about reading?
Reading is SO important for kids. It’s a simple sentence and a simple idea, but it’s a very complex skill to develop.
Learning to read is critical for kids on so many levels beyond decoding words. Reading helps:
- them build their own vocabulary
- improve their comprehension skills
- them make sense of the world around them
- develop a child’s empathy
- them learn how stories work
- improve their writing skills
- encourage a thirst for knowledge
- build independence and self-confidence
- develop a child’s imagination and creativity
- entertain kids without a screen
The “summer slide” is the tendency for some kids to lose some of the gains that they made in reading during the school year
Here are 3 ways to prevent the summer slide
- Read 6 books – research shows that reading just 6 books during the summer can prevent regression in reading skills over the summer. The key is to choose books that are the right reading level for the the child – not too hard or too easy
- Read something every day – build in opportunities to read throughout the day: the comics in the paper, signs around town, rules to a game, etc
- Read out loud – reading to kids, especially kids that struggle with reading, helps to build reading comprehension skills and expand knowledge with text so that reading is easier when they do it on their own.
A Huge Key To Success is Offering Great Books:
Get them reading
Given the benefits of reading (improves vocabulary, makes you a better writer, and enlarges your breadth of understanding and more), I can’t emphasize enough the need to get kids reading over the summer. Especially in this day and age where it seems that so many kids spend most of their days playing video games of one type or another.
While kids aren’t likely to give up more fun activities to sit down and read on their own, parents can make some small adjustments to their homes that might make reading seem a good choice in the moment.
Forcing them to read for a certain amount of time (or pages) doesn’t always work.
Believe me, I’ve tried and tried. It may work in the moment to make them do the action, but it will fail in the long run because it won’t create a lifelong reader.
Let your child pick the book
Most kids say that their favorite books are the ones they choose, so give them a say. When they have a stake in what they read, they will be much more involved.
Make sure that the books match your child’s reading level
Reading books that are either too easy or too hard doesn’t help them. You can also teach your child the five finger book rule: Have your child turn to any page and start reading. The child should put a finger up for each word he or she doesn’t know. If your child holds up five fingers, try another book.
Carve out reading time
Kids are great at occupying their time these days with playing with friends or playing on a device of some sort. Make sure to carve out 30 minutes a day for them to read.
Check out the movie version
Encourage your child to read a book and then watch the movie version. Then compare the two versions. The conversations that come out of this are amazing! Which was better – the movie or the book? Ideas to get started: “Harry Potter”, “Wonder”, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, “Hatchet” and more.
Have each family member who is old enough to be able to read take a turn, or have different family members act out parts of the book as they read.
Make reading the most appealing activity around
In other words, place books where your kids get bored. A basket of books in the car. A basket of books in the bathroom, and so on. We used to keep books in the car all the time, and my kids still love to take books to the car for when we go for a drive.
Don’t be too picky about what your child reads
Cereal boxes, cartoons, the sports page, baseball cards and graphic comic book novels are fine. Find what piques your kid’s interest. What are her hobbies? What are other kids reading? Remember, what’s most important isn’t literary merit but getting your kid to feel comfortable with reading.
Build your home library
Research shows that the number of books in a home influences academic performance. You don’t have to break the bank in doing this. Go to the library, shop garage sales, check out books from the library on a device. Subscribe to a magazine for your kids. Some of our favorites are: “Highlights”, “Ask”, “Ranger Rick”, “National Geographic Kids”, and “Dig”
Make it a family activity
I was surprised how effective it was to say “I’m going to sit down with you guys and we are all going to read for 45 minutes”!
Parent ProTip: bookstores are wonderful, and books make fabulous gifts, but providing variety is pricey if you’re buying (you want variety so that your child can find something appealing). Frequent trips to the library allow you to fill your bookcases at no cost, while also being a great place to linger in cool space during the heat of summer. Hanging out in a place with a lot of books might lead to reading. If your child complains about going, tell him/her that you need to go. You can even sweeten it by saying that the most convenient time for you to go is while you are already out and heading to a place he/she wants to go.
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