Springing Into Summer, Memorial Day Weekend, 2019. Now this is a summer reading fest for kids!
Summer Reading Fest For Kids
Are you ready for the best ever summer reading staycation? Afterall, reading is the best adventure imaginable, don’t you agree?
I recently read a Scholastic survey figure that really shook me to the core. If true, twenty percent of kids surveyed said they didn’t plan to read a single book this summer. Oh, no! I’m not sure which age group, but it probably doesn’t matter. Why so many kids, when there is so much great reading material available? I really don’t get it.
What does matter is that we continue encouraging love of reading, from birth throughout life, long past toddler time. We do this, first and foremost by modeling our love of reading.
Summer offers time to be with our kids, reading, writing, enjoying library visits including special events, makerspaces and 3D printers. Reading for the fun of it, self-selecting is key, with first books, chapter books, young adult literature, classics, non-fiction (info-text) and graphic novels. Road trips are perfect for audiobooks.
Books go on picnics, camping, shared reading under a tree or in a hammock, sitting on a beach, in a decked out baby wading pool, anywhere and everywhere. iPads, Kindles, Nooks. Books. Just read. When we read, our littles and bigs read, too.
Start a little book lending library
Wouldn’t it be fun to collect outgrown books and make this a family, maybe neighborhood project?
1. Turn your home into a print and language rich environment. Create book nooks, crannies, forts made of boxes or blankets. Read in a little tent. Offer an invitation to stop and read. Books introduce us to other people, places and cultures. Our imaginations run wild with excitement as we meet characters like us or so different we can’t wait to see what they will do next. This is the beauty of fiction. Encourage reading non-fiction, too. Mix it up! Books everywhere, a culture of literacy.
2. Create smart little readers by reading! Start reading to your baby right away. When your kiddo is a toddler, lap reading is not only heartwarming but an effective reading strategy. Your little is watching your eyes follow lines of print, notices you reading from left to right, hears your expression, and is immersed in the joy of reading. For pre or emerging readers, read books featuring rhyme, rhythm, and predictable patterns. As you read, point out that sounds make letters and letters make words. Sing along and use puppets or rhythm instruments. Unleash your creativity!
3. Continue reading with your children long past toddler stage. When kids start reading on their own, it’s still important to read together. You build vocabulary, boost comprehension, fluency, and model ‘can do’ attitude and joy of reading.
4. Check the book’s reading level. Books need to be at an independent reading level. The easiest way is ask your child to put a finger down on the page each time there’s an unknown word. After five fingers are down, switch to an easier book. Children reading at a frustration level don’t understand what they read or won’t want to read.
Family Classic Novels Reading Time
Start what I call family classic reading time. For fiction reading, let kids self-select favorite books. I like Captain Underpants, sure. However, I am also a true believer in classic literature. Time-tested, classics are classic. I’m including some of my favorite titles at the end of this article.
Sharing great literature will be remembered as a family tradition. By turning off electronics a set time each day, you set the stage for lifelong reading success and joy.
Make a family reading goal – books you want to read together and post a reading record of what you read. While you are reading, stop and discuss the book. Do One Minute Book Reports. “I like this book because….”
Talk about characters, plot, setting, and theme. “What did we learn from this book? Do we like the book? Would we recommend it to others?” Maybe have older children or teens (no kidding) be Book Reviewers or write book reviews, shared with others.
Read non-fiction, too
Read a variety of non-fiction, what I call info-text. Helpful hint, first, know your child’s background knowledge. KWL is perfect to find out, if you’re not sure what they know to start with. Quickly ask or note on a piece of paper, I know already, what I want to know, then do what I learned, after reading. If your child has no background knowledge, stop for a bit and build it, so the information has something to hook to and make sense.
Next, take a Book or Article Walk, noticing author, date, new vocabulary etc. This helps build comprehension.
As you read, keep making predictions or guesses, then read to find out if you’re right.
Finally, summarize. Stop after each chapter, page or paragraph. This boosts comprehension. Re-read if necessary, doing repeated readings.
Weekly Theme or Reading Topic
Immerse your developing readers in a weekly theme or topic. Read fiction and non-fiction; use library books and Internet articles. At the end of each, share what you learned.
Theme based reading projects may include science experiments, art, field trips and writing.
Themes may also be chosen to reinforce family values: love, friendship, loyalty, courage, heroes and heroines. Other themes could be discovery, invention and adventure. Have fun selecting, then doing!
About your child’s reading level
Independent reading level: With fluent reading, word recognition errors (miscues) don’t exceed more than one per 100 words of text, with 90% or better comprehension.
Instructional level: Assistance is needed. Word recognition errors don’t exceed more than five per 100 words of text. Comprehension would be 75%.
Frustration level: Student understands less than 70% of the reading, and you may notice physical or emotional discomfort. Not good.
Book With Unknown Reading Level
If you want to read a book or article with unknown reading level, make an educated guess. Here’s how.
Check out the length of sentences and complexity of vocabulary.
Generally, an easy selection contains short sentences and simple words, a more challenging title has longer sentences and abstract words.
Illustrations contribute greatly, breaking up text and offering information. Look for colorful art.
Type size counts. It’s measured in points. Select easy on the eyes type styles. Fonts that are too small make it difficult to read, unless using a kindle.
Leading is the space between lines. Larger spaces are easier to read.
Lines that are too long cause more eye fixations and slower reading.
You can use readability formulas, of course, but not for me. Informal observation is much faster and easier. Kids read what they want to read, anyway. Just avoid frustration level most of the time.
Sometimes a book is too challenging for your child, but if there is a burning desire to read that selection, just do it. Provide lots of support.
If the book is too hard and your kiddo is getting stuck, do this.
First, read the whole sentence to see if there are some clues to what the word might be. Next, see if any part looks like a word you already know. Next comes what I call “cross checking”, from cueing.
“Cross checking” “Does it look right?” “Sound right?” “Make sense?”
Are there any known words in the word?
How does the word begin and end?
Is it a compound word?
Is there a prefix or suffix at the beginning or end of the word?
How many syllables are there?
Are there any word families you know? (on, at, etc.)
Sound out the letters using cues you have.
Use context clues. Words surrounding that help unlock word.
Ask for help, last.
Look up the word. What’s its definition and origin? Does that matter?
Building a Culture of Reading at Home
Summer offers us time to slow down, savor life’s beauty and read a lot of books. If some children no longer want to read a book, we’d better figure out fun ways to turn this around. Newletters, podcasts, pen pal letters in cursive, postcards, thank you notes, Flat Stanley! Comics, Lego and Minecraft books, newspaper comics, whatever it takes. Reading everywhere.
Finally, it seems to me that this is what we ought to do to get all kids reading, from littles through adult.
- Make family reading a daily routine, with set time for pleasure reading.
- Have plenty of varied reading material around the home interests met, ok reading levels.
- Let your kids choose what to read most of the time. Exception, Family Classic novels, group or adult selected.
- You need to read, too. Modeling matters. Talk about what you are reading, when appropriate.
- Make reading an interesting event, like a reading character parade, art museum of favorite books, etc.
Besides the joy of reading, by teaching or reinforcing reading at home, you encourage new vocaulary, boost comprehension and more fluent, expressive reading.
Sampler of Favorite Classic Books
Madeline, Five Little Monkeys, Stone Soup, Rosie’s Walk, Tikki Tikki Tembo, Strega Nona, Stellaluna, Are You My Mother? Ira Sleeps Over, Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? Brown Bear, Love You Forever, Millions of Cats, Corduroy, Bear Shadow, The Carrot Seed, If You Give A Mouse a Cookie, Caps For Sale, Make Way For Ducklings, Chicka Chicka abc, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Yo! Yes? Rain, Leo The Late Bloomer, The Little Engine That Could, Goodnight Moon, Go Dog Go, The Snowy Day, Froggy Gets Dressed, Dr. Seuss books.
Chapter Books and Junior (YA) Novels Amelia Bedelia, James and The Giant Peach, Charlotte’s Web, Sarah Plain and Tall, Stone Fox, Matilda, Hatchet and The River, Sign Of The Beaver, Call of the Wild, Patty Reed’s Doll, Harriet The Spy, Dear Mr. Henshaw, Caddie Woodlawn, Number The Stars, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Tuck Everlasting, Bridge to Terabithia.
Time for me to say good-bye for now, but I’ll be back chatting with you soon. In the meantime,
Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita