Saying NO to summer reading slide

Happy first day of summer! Here’s a book for you to read.

“But school is over. I don’t want to do homework!” your child says in despair. “I just want to play my video games!” Ah, the dreaded task of a parent to make sure our kids don’t fall behind over break. What can we do to ensure our children don’t fall into the summer reading slide?

What did we do when the world didn’t have Internet, iPhones, tablets or video games? We would play outside, have family game night, watch a movie, go to the library or even your favorite bookstore and get your favorite book, perhaps find a new author that you would absolutely find in love with.

I have been an avid reader, reading one or two books per week since the age of 8. My parents would take me to the bookstore every Sunday afternoon so that I could get something new to read. It was my favorite place to be growing up. I loved that I had something to look forward to every weekday and I couldn’t wait to find a new story to get lost in.

Now at 41, I find myself struggling with my 8 year old boys as they have a lot more options to entertain themselves than when I did when I was their age. Sure, they read, but not as often as I would like them to. As a parent I asked myself: How can I instill the love of reading to them? Is mandatory AR reading at school not enough? Would they read more often if they always see me reading a book? Can the love of reading simply not be forced upon?
As a parent, I try to make sure that my children read every day, at least for 20 minutes. They can read whatever they want: A story book, a comic book. I am not that picky as to what they read, as long as they read something.
According to an Oxford Learning study, on average, students lose 2 months of reading skills over the summer. Reading 2-3 hours per week can prevent any learning loss. Those who haven’t read during the summers may have lost as much as two years worth of achievement.
In order to avoid my kids from falling behind, these are some of the things I have implemented this summer to ensure they can stay on track for the upcoming school year.
  • We make a point to go to the library at least once every two weeks so that my kids can pick a book of their choosing. Often times, the local librarian asks what type of books they enjoy reading and recommend books that are popular with kids their age.We also encourage our kids to participate in a summer reading program. The Miami-Dude Public Library System offers prizes, such as tickets to gaming events, or Science museum for children that complete reading logs. More information can be obtained here.
  • My husband and I take turns reading with our children (and not just at bedtime). We show interest in the story, ask questions about the plot to test their reading comprehension, and often try to talk about the story in every day conversations. We ask them what they think will happen next, or what a certain character is likely to do to keep them interested in the book they are reading. Often times, they can’t wait to come home and continue to the next chapter. By showing interest, it keeps their mind intrigued.
  • If you are an Amazon Prime Member, you can now enter to get an invitation for Prime Book Box Kids, where where parents can get automated deliveries of two hand-picked children books every 1, 2 or 3 months for children aged 1-12. You can ask for an invitation here.
It is important that us, as parents and educators continue to flex children’s’ reading muscles over summer vacation, as it is the single most important thing you can do to help develop literacy learning.
What do you think? How do you promote summer reading?