The debate between educators, parents and kids about the merits of assigned summer reading continues. Smart Bubblegum looks to the experts for the benefits of fostering a love of reading, as well as potential solutions to quelling disputes in favor of a happy summer for all involved.
Kids with books equals big learning benefits
Kids often balk at the thought of summer reading – seeing it more as a chore and a bore during a time when they’re supposed to be having FUN. Balk as they might, according to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, 77% of kids can’t help but agree that by reading during their precious summer months, they’ll actually be helping themselves during the coming school year.
In a recent article by U.S. News & World Report, Luke Kralick of the Collaborative Summer Library Program presents two unique benefits to fostering a love of reading in kids, no matter the time of year. And he should know as the organizational coordinator for a program that develops and implements summer reading programs used across the nation.
- The pages of a book present a great way for kids to find “their thing” – “That ability to pick a topic and explore it is a pathway to further success. A lot of times, children who are super interested in horses or cars – those might become a lifelong passion for them.”
- Reading often teaches kids empathy – “It’s one way people develop empathy skills by reading about others’ perspectives and learning about the headspace other folks are living in. Children can’t peer into each other’s heads, but reading can be a menu for learning about the world and about other people.”
James Kim, Harvard education professor and the key person behind a read-at-home literacy program called READS for Summer Learning, concurs that the benefits are wide-reaching. In a blog by the Wallace Foundation, Kim shared that reading WITH your children can also create unique moments to connect. In his own home with his three children, he practices what he calls the “Three Rs of Reading”: Read Aloud, Read, and Retells. During Read Aloud, he encourages parents to have their child(ren) pick a book and then read it aloud to them. He then suggests they have their child Read their favorite part of the book, then encourage them to read it again with more expression to aid in teaching them fluency. Lastly, he recommends a Retell activity, where the children detail anything in the book that reminds them of something they may have done before. This simple act can aid with comprehension and engagement.
Flip the Page on Putting Reading Off
Rather than going to battle over assigned summer reading, here are four ways to make the concept seem more appealing to kids of all ages…
Make Reading an Adventure
From hanging out in a blanket fort in the backyard with a stack of books, a stuffed animal and a bunch of snacks to loading the whole family into the car for a trip to the library, it’s not difficult to create an air of fun and magic around reading. You can even focus on books that involves places where you’ll be traveling over the summer – like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios – or a city that looms large in the background of an assigned novel.
For Cathy Bogart – a second grade teacher from Ohio, the library is a great place to fill all five senses. “They can see the books and people reading, they can hear a calming quiet silence, if you will, and they can touch books — even the smell. They can hear the crinkle of a book that is being opened. All of these opportunities are concrete and part of the development process of reading, and it’s all there at the library.”
Use Technology to Up the Ante
From audiobooks to e-readers and tablets, we’ve never been in a better place to make reading more accessible AND attractive. Audiobooks offer an opportunity for the whole family to listen to a book during their drive to the beach, creating an awesome forum for discussions about the book over dinner. And by loading required reading onto their e-reader or tablet, then either reading it to them, asking them to read it to you or engaging them in a discussion about the characters and plot of their book is a great tech-friendly way to get the job done.
Lead by Example
Kids often learn by watching. If they see you enjoying a book AND relishing the opportunity to talk about it, that’s a great way to foster a love of reading in them, as well. Dedicate a portion of your home to a cozy book nook – complete with a comfortable chair or sofa, blankets and bookshelves – that’s a shared space every member of the family can enjoy. Whether curling up with a good book or an e-reader, start them young by gathering in the nook daily to read aloud to them so they associate that space with happy memories.
Enlist the Aid of Smart Bubblegum
At Smart Bubblegum, our own experts have curated more than 25 pages of apps geared toward reading – from bedtime stories for little ones to storybook makers to encourage future authors. Driven by a goal to have a positive impact on world literacy, we welcome the opportunity to help you foster a love of not only reading in your child, but also a lifelong love of learning. We provide the tools to do just that – running the gamut from Arts and Coding to Educational Games and Foreign Languages… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Learn more at www.SmartBubblegum.com.
From all of us here at Smart Bubblegum, we wish you and your young readers a Happy Summer!
Hampshire, Kristen “Summer Reading: Book Ideas for Parents of K-8 Students” U.S. News & World Report. https://news.yahoo.com/summer-reading-book-ideas-parents-132410815.html
Scholastic Parents Staff “4 Tips to Make Reading Your Child’s Go-To Summer Activity” Scholastic. https://www.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading/book-lists-and-recommendations/summer-reading-importance.html
Gill, Jennifer “Literacy Expert on Why Kids Must Keep Reading During This ‘Unprecedented Moment’” Wallace Foundation. https://www.wallacefoundation.org/news-and-media/blog/pages/literacy-expert-on-why-kids-must-keep-reading-during-this-unprecedented-moment.aspx