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Make reading a summer priority

Ann Dolin
Special to the Sun
Courtesy Thinkstock.com
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

If you’re like most parents at this time of year, you’re relishing the days of summer.

No more homework struggles, tests, or jam-packed afternoons of carting your children to and from extracurricular activities.

The summer is a time to unwind and relax for parents and kids alike, but learning should not come to a halt.

Parents can play an important role in encouraging learning throughout the summer months even if their child is a reluctant learner.

One of the most important gifts you can give your child this summer is the ability to enjoy reading. Some children are naturally eager readers; however, others would never associate “reading” and “fun.”

For those children, we must pull out all the stops to foster a love of reading. It is imperative to develop structure while also giving children a choice in their reading material.

The key to motivating reluctant readers is to find the right series of books that will pique their interests. As a parent, you know your child best. What does he love? If it’s sports, subscribe to Sports Illustrated for Kids. Perhaps your child would enjoy a sports-related book in the Matt Christopher series. Does he want to be a veterinarian? Go to the library and check out books on animals.

If your child will only read a certain series of books, that’s okay; at least he’s reading. Don’t turn up your nose at your child’s choice of books; it can discourage reading.

It’s perfectly acceptable for your child to read books he’s already read. In fact, one of the fastest ways to build reading fluency is to read a book slightly below grade level, three times.

Not sure if a book is too difficult? Use the 5-finger rule. If your child mispronounces 5 or more words on a page, the book is too hard for him.

Magazines are often the way to get reluctant readers on the page. Even magazines about video games require reading! Subscribe to publications like American Girl, Boys’ Quest, National Geographic World, Nickelodeon, or Ranger Rick and put the subscription in your child’s name.

Most children love comic books and they are a great way to ease into reading more traditional books. Many novels now come in comic book form and kids love them! No wonder books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid are more popular than ever.

Consider books on tape. Learning Ally (formerly Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic) provides access to the nation’s largest audiobook library of textbooks and literature titles.

You may want to monitor your child while he is listening to a book to know that he isn’t just staring into space. Children can develop fluency and a better sight word vocabulary if they are tracking the words along with the reader’s voice.

Sign up for the summer reading program through your local library, bookstore, or online through Scholastic; click on “Read for the World Record.”

These programs provide structure, accountability, and incentives. Find out how many books your child is expected to read and set goals. If it’s four books, then set attainable goals, such as 25 pages per week or one chapter per day.

Kids love computers, so use “screen time” to your advantage. Enroll your child in a structured, online reading program that’s fun, engaging, and helps to improve reading decoding, fluency, and comprehension. Check out Headsprout for ages 4 to 11 and Study Dog, also a video game format-reading program for ages 4 to 8.

The summer is a time to unwind and relax for parents and kids alike, but learning should not come to a halt. By focusing on your child’s interests, involving the family, and setting goals, you can motivate even the most reluctant learners.

This information and more literacy tips are provided by Reading Rockets. For more, please visit http://www.readingrockets.org.


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