You have a cleaver aimed at the chicken splayed across the cutting board, the spin cycle crescendos in the laundry room, the cat down the hall is throwing up who-knows-what now, and the kids shuffle in with pinched faces, crooning their mid-summer blues. “We’re bored.”There’s nothing to do.”
I wish there was nothing to do. I’d sit under the maple tree and read my book.
Okay. Hold that thought. We’ll get back to it in a moment.
The Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid Columbia has a plan. Get your kids reading during the summer. Don’t let them slip into that brain closed- for- summer routine.
“Children over the summer lose about 20 percent of what they learn during the school year,” says foundation executive director Brian Ace. He cites research that shows children who read at least four books over the summer months maintain, or—and what do you know–increase their reading skills.
And kids who continue using their brains over summer aren’t so rusty when they return to class in the fall.
“It’s discouraging for teachers to spend the initial weeks of the school year reintroducing concepts introduced in the spring, “says Ace.
And it doesn’t matter what your children read.
Chapter books. Picture books. Comic books? Fine. Got a kid who loves cars? Vampires? Rock and roll? Encourage them to read about it!
“If it grabs the interest of the kid, they’re going to run with it. It’s not going to be a chore. And they still get that print concept. They’re still going to get new vocabulary. It’s all going to come through those mediums. The important thing is that they’re excited about reading about it.”
Now playing at a theater near you: A book!
One great way to light a fire beneath kids is to take advantage of the summer blockbusters. “Most of the movies in summer are based on books,” Ace says. “Encourage your child, make it mandatory to read that book first, before you see the movie.”
In case you haven’t heard, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 opens in theaters at midnight.
Now, back to you.
Adults “in a huge way” need to read more, says the reading foundation director. “The best way to get your kids engaged in reading is for them to see you reading.”
Lead by example.
None of that “Do as I say not as I do.”
It doesn’t have to be a book. It can be a magazine or a newspaper (or, ahem, your favorite blog). “But kids need to see you being excited about reading because then they are going to model that.”
“How frustrating for a kid to be told, ‘Go read for 20 minutes,’ and then Mom and Dad sit in front of the TV,” says Ace. “Make reading a family thing. Go to the park, lay out a blanket, and read books together. Turn reading into a family activity.”
So have I lit a fire beneath you?
My summer read recommendation, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, which, by the way, has been made into a movie, now playing at a theater near you (soon on DVD).