“Summer slide” is not a ride at the local carnival, but a real issue, especially in lower income areas.  Children in low income areas tend to fall back two reading levels or more during summer months, which puts many children who are already below grade level at an even greater disadvantage.  In our last blog post, Principal Brockman talked about fun ways to continue learning throughout the summer. One of the easiest ways to do that is to encourage reading. While I can compose endless pages with research showing how reading over the summer is great for test scores and vocabulary, I would like to talk about this from a slightly different angle:  reading for the pure joy of reading.

Reading is an adventure!  It takes us on a journey, where we may find we have something in common with the words printed on the page.  Reading also shows us the other side, the words we didn’t think we wanted to read, but their impact causes us to see the world differently and want to share our new knowledge with others.

Reading is joy! It takes us to places that make us laugh one minute and wipe the tears from our eyes the next.  Reading, especially for young students, should not just be an obligation, but it is important to impart the excitement and joy of reading to children so they will pursue the knowledge and adventure on their own.

So, the question is, how do you get a child who would rather play video games all day long to spend their time reading instead?  Make it fun!  First, everyone in the house should get involved.   Children learn from watching you, their parents and caretakers.  If they see you reading, they will follow.  If you don’t think you have time in your day, try twenty minutes after lunch or dinner.  Grab a pile of books, magazines, or newspapers. Fire up those Kindles, gather in the living room and call it a reading party.  No books?  Please go get a library card, yesterday!  Have everyone get 5-7 books at their level, in different genres, so they are able to read what they are in the mood for that day.

As your days go by and this becomes the norm, switch it up!  Bring a blanket under the trees in the backyard, add some snacks and bottles of water and have a read-a-thon under the sunny skies.   Bring out the stuffed animals and dolls and have a reading party.  After a half hour or so, have everyone share part of what they read.  Ask questions!  Not just, “Who were the characters?” and “What was the problem and ending?”, but “What would you do if you were the main character?  What does this story remind you of?  What would you change in the story and why?”  The next day?  Reverse this!  Adults read the books and the children ask the questions!

The main message here is to make reading fun and enjoyable. On a hot summer day immerse yourself in the life of a penguin, sail the seven seas, or go on an adventure with a big red dog.  Your children’s grades will improve, their vocabularies will skyrocket, and their understanding of others will increase, helping them to know not only themselves in a deeper way, but have increased empathy and kindness toward others. To get started, check out this Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge where your child can create their own log in and enter their summer reading minutes to unlock digital rewards, book excerpts and other summer-exclusive content, or visit Reading Rockets for more creative reading ideas.

What summer adventures will you partake in, even if only in your mind, starting from the pages of a book?