Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer Reading

The last days of school are upon us. We'll love not having some extra space in our lives. Sure, summer is full with camps and activities. There's a little extra pressure on parents to entertain, supervise and shuttle kids. But there are wonderful opportunities for play, fun and relaxing. Given all that summer does bring, how can you encourage your children to read during the summer?

Here are some of my suggestions, as a mom:

1) Make time to read. With all the activities in the summer, it's important to set aside time for our children to take it down a notch and read. Kids won't always do this themselves - it's a structure that often we, as parents, need to make. Whether it's in the evening or the early mornings or afternoon, set aside time to read.

2) Give your child choice about what to read. One of the joys of summer is not having the structure of school assignments. Kids are much more likely to get engaged with reading if they have a choice. But parents need to help provide a good selection for kids to browse through. Take a trip to the library together, and bring home a big stack of books from the library - ask for suggestions from the librarian - try something different from an author your child has liked - when kids have playdates, ask your child's friends what they've liked reading and write down the titles.

3) Try audiobooks. Before you go on a family trip, get some audiobooks to try as a family. You can either download these to your iPod or MP3 player, or check out CDs from the library. These are a great way to bring families together. My eldest daughter (now age 10) loves to draw and listen to stories. Other children I know like to build Lego's while they're listening to stories.

4) Turn off electronics. We have a new rule this summer: no electronic games, video or TV before 5pm. It's an easy rule - no questions or grey lines. It gives the kids time when they get their fun, but also has them know that there are times they need to stretch their creative solutions to the "I'm bored" whining.

Do you have suggestions for how to encourage summer reading? Let me know - I'd love to share more ideas.

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