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Raise a Bookworm

When your child’s schedule is packed with swimming, camp and family vacations, it can be a challenge to find time for reading. But don’t hit pause on daily reading just because school’s out. Here are some ways to make reading a natural part of the summer fun.

Explore your library. Check out books and magazines that your kids haven’t seen before. Many libraries have summer reading programs, book clubs and reading contests for even the youngest borrowers. There are often incentives, such as a free book upon completing their summer reading lists. Young kids will feel extra grown-up checking out books with their own library card.

Read on the road. Going on a long car trip? Make sure the back seat is stocked with favorite reads. When you’re not at the wheel, you can read the books aloud. Get some audiobooks and listen to them during drive time.

Make your own books. Pick one of your family’s favorite parts of summer — whether it’s baseball, ice cream, vacation or the pool — and have your child draw or cut out related pictures from magazines and catalogs. Paste the pictures onto paper to make a book. Then encourage your child to write text for each page. A younger child can dictate the story to you. When you’re done, read the book together.

Keep in touch. Kids don’t have to go away to write about summer vacation. Even if your family stays home, you can encourage your child to send postcards, letters or emails to friends and relatives. Ask a relative to be your child’s pen pal and encourage a weekly exchange of letters, postcards or emails.

Keep up the reading rituals. Even if everything else changes during the summer, keep up the reading routines already in place at your house. Read with your kids every day — whether it’s just before bedtime or under a shady tree on a lazy afternoon. And don’t forget to take a book to the beach! Just brush the sand off the pages!

Savor the series. It’s common for kids to become book lovers for life after getting hooked on a series. And there are lots of good ones that keep kids hungry for the next installment (Ivy and Bean, Judy Moody for beginning readers, Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson series for middle graders; and Hunger Games, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Twilight for older teens).

While it’s never too late to start reading, many studies show that the earlier parents engage their children in reading, even reading to toddlers and preschoolers, the better. With an estimated 43 percent of children in America not being school ready when they enter kindergarten, reading from an early age can help to solve this lack of literacy that plagues our students in a number of ways.

According to Dr. J. Richard Gentry, author of Raising Confident Readers, reading aloud and doing activities like reading-around-the-room can start as early as 3 or 4 months of age. Neuroscientists tell us that because a baby’s brain is malleable and will triple in size during the first year of life, exercises like this will help your toddler flex the mental muscle and grow their cognitive development.

Books truly have the power to benefit our kids in a number of ways, including logical thinking, mastery of language, better communication skills and enhanced concentration and discipline. The best thing parents can do to nurture these skills is by immersing them in reading and books.


© 1995- 2013. The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. Reprinted with permission.


Recommended Reading

Little Owl’s Orange Scarf by Tatyana Feeney

Little Owl loves many things, including his tree house in City Park, riding his scooter and eating ice cream. But he does not love the new orange scarf his mommy makes him wear. It’s too long. It’s too itchy. It’s too orange!  $11+  ages 0-3

Taffy Saltwater’s Yummy Summer Day by Michael Paraskevas

The creator of Nick’s popular series Maggie and the Ferocious Beast introduces a happy-go-lucky heroine who is determined to build the perfect palace of sand. But this perfect day at the beach takes a turn for the worse and Taffy must spring into action to save the day.  $11+  ages 3-7

The San Francisco Splash by David A Kelly

This seventh book of the Ballpark Mysteries series is set in San Francisco’s recently built ballpark. And when Mike and Kate pulled from the water behind the ballpark, the old-time ballplayer discovers his World Series ring is gone! Is it at the bottom of the bay? Or was it somehow stolen by a long-ago rival?  $5  ages 6-9

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Follow Wahoo Cray as he helps his animal wrangler father on a reality TV show called Expedition Survival! As the show goes on location in the Everglades and people go missing, it’s anyone’s guess who will actually survive!  $9+ ages 10+

The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis

Olivia loves her life in Los Angeles, but lately, something’s been missing. And after getting this strange advice, her world begins to change. She begins to wonder if the mother she’s never known might be the secret ingredient she has been lacking. But sometimes the things we search for are the things we’ve had all along.  $10+  ages 12+


Source: Random House Kids 

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