Summer is supposed to be a break from learning, and therefore a break from reading. But letting education slide over the summer can set your child back in September. Summer slide is when a child loses previously acquired academic skills or knowledge over a lengthy break.
But you can help to prevent your child from falling behind by being proactive right now.
Make reading fun, and get your kids into a great book!
Teddy Bear/Doll Picnics
This is good for younger kiddos. Basically, they act as the “teacher” and read to their toys on a blanket. Or a parent/babysitter/grandparent/sibling could join the festivities and be the guest reader. After the book, everyone has a little snack and drink.
Your local library or school should have these available, but if not Scholastic Inc. has a virtual program! Your child, with your help and permission, simply has to read books and log how long s/he has read for each day.There are grand prizes, weekly prizes, printables, and online games.
Take a Trip
Growing up I devoured Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Luckily, I also lived in Massachusetts, and was able to easily visit the real Orchard House in Concord. I was able to literally walk in Louisa’s footsteps, imagine what her life was like, and see where she wrote my favorite book. More recently, I was reading Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. I made the decision to read it while touring the Civil War battlefields of Virginia. It was so interesting to be able to make connections between what I was seeing and what I was reading.
If your child is interested in a book or series that is set in a real place (aka NOT Hogwarts), see if you can go there! Prince Edward Island for Anne of Green Gables. South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Missouri for the Little House series. Need more ideas? Check out this list.
Connect it to history (or your child’s favorite subject)
Kids love to learn, even when they don’t think that they do. If they are hooked on a certain time period or idea, try getting them a book about it to really bring it to life. Do they like Colonial America or the Revolutionary War? Try George Washington’s Socks the Felicity American Girl books,or My Brother Sam is Dead, or a book by Ann Rinaldi. Rinaldi writes books targeted at girls that retell important historical moments from a fictional perspective. While they are well written, they often involve a PG-13 romance; these should be read by parents first. If your reader is more into the Civil War, might I suggest The Red Badge of Courage, the My America series (which also covers other time periods), or the Dear America series (with other time periods as well). Do they like frontier life or just understanding how people lived in the “olden days”? Check out Caddie Woodlawn, Farmer Boy, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or Sarah, Plain and Tall.
There is also a GoodReads list that highlights over 500 historical fiction books for kids. They are ranked based on votes. When you click on each book, a summary and book reviews comes up. The books range from Medieval Europe to the Civil Rights movement, and everywhere in between.
See it on the screen
Many books are now movies! Let your little wizards watch Harry and friends battle evil after they have read the books. Or go with Percy Jackson on a journey of personal discovery. Even Anne Shirley has her own movie series (and a cartoon series, too)!
Many of these movies are PG or PG-13, so watching should be based on your parental discretion. And I would recommend not just watching movies based on books as a substitute, but watching only after the book(s) have been read. This list is a great resource for finding those book/movie connections.
How do you make reading fun for your kids over the summer?