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Summer is a time when the days are long and kids like to spend their afternoons running outside, watching TV, or playing their favorite video games. Despite the flexibility of summer schedules, it's important that children engage in summer reading. When kids read during the summer, they perform better in school upon returning to class in the fall. Beginning readers especially need to read during the summer in order to strengthen the literacy skills they learned during the school year. You can encourage summer reading by providing more opportunities for a child to read, rewarding reading, and setting good examples for the child.
Parents can help their child engage in more summer reading by providing her with opportunities to read throughout the summer months. For example, one of the best ways to help a child read during the summer is to enroll her in the public library's summer reading program. Summer reading programs encourage children to keep track of everything they read on a daily basis by writing in a reading log. Young readers are rewarded for time spent reading by receiving small prizes. Children who meet the program's reading goal can often receive coveted invitations to pizza or ice cream parties at the conclusion of the summer reading program.
Before participating in a library's summer reading program, a parent should register the child for a library card. Owning a library card allows a child to check out books from the library. Children should be permitted to select their own books based on their hobbies and interests. Whether they enjoy reading graphic novels, books about celebrities, fiction, or magazines, children will be more apt to read during the summer if they can choose their own reading material.
During the summer, parents can encourage their child to read in a variety of informal settings. Parents can read books to kids while they wait in a doctor's office, travel on long-distance car trips, or wait in line at the supermarket. They can take their kids to the library or bookstore for story times or read books and newspapers at home. Some parents take their children to the park and read as they share a picnic lunch.
No matter how parents encourage their children to participate in summer reading, they need to ensure that kids witness them reading as well. Children learn by emulating their parents; if they notice adults reading at home, they will more likely wish to read for recreation too. Subscribing to magazines, reading newspapers, and taking children to bookstores and libraries will help kids realize the importance of reading all year long—not just during the summer.
Taking advantage of a library's summer reading program is nearly always a great idea. Not only do most libraries have goals kids can meet, but many also have one or two special programs a month where they talk about books and offer enrichment or entertainment. If a library has a science fiction theme, for example, they may have a program showing an episode of "Star Trek" or something similar. The summer reading programs also allow children to make friends with others and have something in common with them.
The old SRA kits schools used to have were also a great reading incentive, since it was a feather in one's cap to have read enough over the summer to start at a higher level in the kit when school started. Some libraries also offered them as reading challenges, and this was great, too.
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