Summer should be a time for children to have fun and relax. But research has shown that summertime is when children can lose much of the educational progress they made during the school year.
The National Summer Learning Association says "A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year.” The NSLA also cites over a century of studies showing that typical children score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer than they did on the same test at the beginning of summer.
How can you stop the “summer slide” without turning summer into a bummer? By making reading just as much fun as a video game or a trip to the pool.
Here are some ideas for keeping your children excited about reading during summer vacation:
1. Join the summer reading club at your local library – or start your own!
Many libraries offer rewards like sports tickets, free books, and passes to local attractions to children who read a certain number of books over the summer. Or you can set up a similar club on your own at home. The rewards are great incentives, but the real prize is the recognition of their accomplishments.
2. Post a Reading Success Chart in Your Home
Hang a posterboard somewhere prominent at home, listing every book your child reads over the summer. It will serve as a constant source of pride as your child watch the list grow. And your children will know they live in a family that values reading.
3. Start or Visit a "Little Free Library"
This is a mini-library – about the size of a mailbox – you place in front of your home or in a public place and fill with books. Anyone is free to take any book, and to return it later or replace it with another book.
Over 10,000 Little Free Libraries around the world have been registered with LittleFreeLibrary.org. Parents can build it, kids and children can help decorate it, and you can both help stock it with books. Not only is it a fun family project, it's a great way to connect with your local community and a worldwide community of readers. Find a Little Free Library near you or learn how to start your own.
4. Mix it Up and Keep it Loose
Reading comes in many forms. Don't worry too much about whether your children are reading “the right things”. It's more important that children read whatever appeals to them, whether that means classic novels, picture books, comics, or magazines. And don't forget ebooks and audiobooks, too. A varied diet of reading material helps keep children engaged whether they're curled up on the couch or riding in the car on a road trip.
5. Read Together
Make reading a shared activity for everyone in the house, whether you're reading aloud to your child or just making time to sit together, read your own books, and talk about what you've read later. Again, this sends the message that reading is important in your house.
6. Play What You Read
Encourage your child to extend the imaginative world of books into play activities. This helps develop the sense of exploration that starts with reading. And it gets them excited about the new adventures books hold in store. While it isn't essential to these activities, a book-themed toy or doll can be a fun supplement to your child's summer reading.
Now through July 31, all book-themed dolls by Madame Alexander are 20% off when you enter the code LITERACYFUN at checkout. Choices include favorites like Angelina Ballerina™, Fancy Nancy™, Pinkalicious®, the Wizard of Oz™, and a variety of classic Disney™ characters.
Do you have some ideas to add a fun touch to summer reading? Comment below, we would love to hear them!