Summer vacation has officially started for us! Yeah! With all of the great plans we have for the summer, including day trips, camping trips, summer camps, and just plain lounging around, we will be facing the same challenge as many other families: How do we keep our children reading over the summer?
With research demonstrating significant drops in literacy over the summer and children having difficulty adjusting to school upon their return in the fall, it is up to us (i.e., the parents) to create and facilitate summer reading on behalf of our children. In this post, we will examine the importance of location in creating opportunities for hunkering down with a good book. Here are some of our ideas for choosing (or making the best of) an appropriate location for reading.
1. Road Trip/In the Car
Let’s face it, many of us are going to be hitting the road to get away to our favorite parks, beaches, or camping spots. This could involve anywhere from30 minutes to several hours of children confined to the back seats. The issue becomes one of how to avoid questions such as “Are we there yet?”, “Are we almost there?”, “How much longer?”. Sigh… This is a great opportunity for kids to grab a book and read. I know…some kids get car sick when they read or some kids are too young to read themselves.
Grab an audiobook from Amazon or from your local library. These can be downloaded onto MP3 players, iPods, iPads, other tablets, etc., or your library has CDs you can pop into your player. Why not make it a family affair?
2. In Your Backyard
I have many fond memories of summer rolling around and our huge canvas tent going up in our backyard. My brother and I would put in our cots with our sleeping bags and spend hours reading in our tent. Don’t have a tent? Create your own “tent” by stringing a rope from tree to tree, using a clothesline, putting up a badminton net, etc., and drape an old sheet over it securing the corners to the ground. Throw some old blankets and pillows under there and voila – instant reading tent! Are you overlooking your tree fort as a great summer reading hiding place? If there’s room up there for you and the kids, climb up and read a great book up there all together. Have you thought of a hammock? Or how about some old fashion lawn chairs?
3. Rainy Days
Boo! You are likely to encounter at least one or two rainy days over the summer; or, if you live in the Pacific in North West or on the British Columbia coast, probably more than one or two. You could theoretically brave the elements and escape in your backyard tent (ok, maybe not the one made out of a sheet!); however, why not build an indoor tent with your kids using old blankets, sheets, and couch pillows? The kids can grab their flashlights and hunker down to read. Grab some lemonade, fruit snacks, cookies, or crackers and make it an indoor picnic.
4. Picnics in the Park or at the Beach
This is a bit of a tricky one, because in a picnic or beach area, let’s face it – the kids will run amok. But the simple fact of the matter is that they will eventually get hungry and want to eat. So let them run wild and free! They’ll come back to you eventually asking for food. And that’s when you grab them. If they are sitting down and eating, you may have a captive audience. Read them a book – might I suggest a book that will completely captivate them? Well, you might get 5 minutes of reading in there! 😉
Long summer days at a campsite…aaaahhhh! There is so much to do when you are camping – fishing, hiking, swimming, canoeing/kayaking, building forts with sticks and logs, and just exploring and playing in general. Some kids (the most avid of readers) will come prepared with a few books. Make sure to encourage your kids to pack some of their favorites just in case they find themselves needing some quiet time. Otherwise, we suggest foregoing reading books to your children in favor of storytelling around the campsite. You will experience the same benefits as reading to your children and the kids can contribute by using their imagination to fill in parts of the story. Don’t forget to include different characters with funny accents to really keep them engaged!
6. Making Bedtime Special
In our household, reading at bedtime is sacred. It doesn’t matter how late it is, where we are, and how tired we all are – we read all together at bedtime, even if it’s for 5 minutes. I strongly believe that the greatest benefit of reading to your kids (in my very modest and humble opinion) is the bond that is created as they snuggle up with you, listen to your voice, and feel your warmth and the vibration from your narration. Those are memories they (and you) will cherish for a lifetime. So, over the summer, we make it extra special.
Those who live in our neighborhood will often see my and my kids on our porch swing under a big blanket, snuggled up and reading books. Maybe this summer you want to share one of your childhood favorites with them? Maybe you want to read them a book over the course of a week and then follow it up with a special movie night based on that same book? Or maybe this summer, you want to make up your own story, telling them a little bit every night, leaving them looking forward to hearing the next part on the next night? Share some of your ideas below in the comment box!
Happy Summer Reading!!
We, at Mother Daughter Book Reviews, have a big announcement coming up. We will be hosting a huge weekly book giveaway open only to our email subscribers. Sign up for email updates on the right hand side so you don’t miss your chance to win books, books, and more books for your kids (and you!) this summer. More information coming soon! 😀