(Family Features) Learning shouldn’t stop just because school is out. In fact, stepping too far away from the books can result in a learning loss. However, research has shown that encouraging kids to read just six books, or 20 minutes a day, over the summer can help prevent the summer slide.
The key is finding ways to make reading fun, combining education and entertainment for an activity kids can truly enjoy, said Kate DiCamillo, a two-time Newbery Medal Award-winning author and the 2016 Collaborative Summer Library Program National Summer Reading Champion.
“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty, but rather as a gift that emphasizes the fun of opening a new book and celebrating the satisfaction that comes from reading another story,” said DiCamillo, who is also the 2016-17 Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program literary partner.
Summer schedules can get busy, but with a little creativity it’s actually quite easy to fit in those 20 minutes a day, even when you have other activities planned.
- Take a book. The best way to get your kids reading is to have books available, so take them with you, whether it’s in the car, at the beach or waiting at the doctor’s office.
Summer recharge. Plan ahead for a fun reading-related trip midway through the summer to reignite the love of books and reward kids for reading. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; the trip could simply be camping like a character in a favorite book.
- Explore hobbies. Reading is extra fun when the subject matter involves your favorite things. Look for books that match your kids’ personal interests, such as dinosaurs or gymnastics.
- Magazine madness. Plenty of popular kids magazines can be delivered to your home for an exciting surprise in the mailbox that makes an excellent reason to flip it open and start reading.
- Road trip reading. A long car ride is the perfect opportunity for the whole family to enjoy an audiobook together. You can discuss the story over lunch breaks and fuel stops to engage even further with the book.
- Pen pals. Work with other parents to set up pen pals for the summer and have kids write letters back and forth to practice their reading and writing skills.
- Act it out. Encourage kids to gather some neighborhood friends and create a play based on a favorite book. This helps kids understand the characters and story lines by bringing them to life.
- Take direction. Ask kids to read the directions for a classic summer project, like setting up a tent or making a snack for a picnic. Whether they are directing you or doing it themselves, reading and understanding directions builds important skills.
- Head to the library. Most libraries offer fun and interactive summer reading programs for kids that include incentives, activities and structure to help get kids excited about reading all summer long.
- Tap into tech time. If you’ve committed to limiting screen time for the summer, consider a compromise that lets kids use devices for productive activities, such as reading e-books.
The sooner you start a habit of reading every day, the better your child will be prepared when school – and the annual BOOK IT! Program – kicks off again. The program, available to kindergarten through sixth-grade students, runs from October through March each year and motivates students to read by rewarding them for their reading accomplishments with recognition and pizza. Learn more about the program and find more summer reading tips and activities at bookitprogram.com.