Written by: Karina Fiset
Many of the parents I have meet at my Reading and Writing Clinic see summer as an opportunity to interest their children in reading and ask me to create a summer reading program for them. Meanwhile others, believing their children are exhausted once the year is over, see it as a well deserved break before taking on the next one. So which is the best: reading every day, taking the summer off, or finding a happy medium?
First, remember that good readers already read during the summer. Children who don’t might realize that they have fallen behind once they are back in school, whether they had goods grades in the past or not – obviously that gap is even bigger in the case of struggling students. In other words, reluctant readers are the ones who could benefit most from summer reading.
I therefore suggest that you go for a balanced approach which takes into account both the child’s need to relax and his or her personal difficulties. For example, you could go for 30 minutes a day of mandatory reading, but the child could have two days off every week along with a well deserved two-week “intellectual break” during the summer.
Now that we know reading during the summer is beneficial, another question arises: what should they read? With seasoned readers, there’s no need to ask; they’ll just grab a novel or a copy of their favorite comics. But when it comes to reluctant readers, is it really a good idea to limit reading to their school books and the tests they barely passed?
The answer is: no. They’ll be more tempted by a book that’s different from what they usually read in school, especially if it is about a subject they are interested in. Go for variety: science magazines, an animal encyclopedia, a book of magic tricks, the instructions to build a birdhouse, tips to grow a garden, etc. You can also find great reading material online, like the blog section of the CBC Kids website: http://www.cbc.ca/kidscbc2/explore
Really, it’s all about tapping into your children’s interests. If yours are hockey fans, give them books that will provide various information about it: its history, the equipment, the tournaments, security matters, etc. There are even some sports magazine that could do the job.
Another way to slowly make reading part of your routine is to play board games with your family. There’s no need for it to be an educational or word game like Scrabble. Even if it’s just rules, reading is reading!
Reading may be laborious and less stimulating if your child does not completely understand the texts adapted to his or her reading level. The best way to overcome this is to sit down with them and read together. A parent’s help is precious, and can help make a summer of reading truly fun!