Summer Reading

Written By: Rachel Strong
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In 1998, a book was published in the US that turned a hatred of reading to love. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" was published for the first time in the US and kids began reading again. Despite what some may say about the content of the Harry Potter series, the series got kids reading again!

Spring (not to mention allergy season) is in full bloom. The days are getting warmer and longer, and the weather is beautiful-with the exception of the spring storms. But with Spring comes the promise of Summer, and with summer comes Freedom!!! Days full of watching TV, playing video games, chatting online and playing with friends!

Students spend most of their time not learning during the summer, and this has detrimental effects on their next school year. The first month of school in the fall is usually spent re-learning what is taught in the spring. One way to counteract this is to encourage your child to read over the summer.

During the summer, students should continue reading-not only to keep minds sharp, but also to improve reading skills-which will improve testing skills next fall. There are many ways you can encourage your child to read:

SET ASIDE A TIME EACH WEEK TO READ WITH YOUR STUDENT. Once a week, or even more, turn off the TV, computer, Nintendo / Playstation / Xbox, and radio / iPod and everyone in the family sit down to read. You don't necessarily have to all read the same thing, but just read together. Not only will this help your student improve his or her reading skills, but also create family unity-as long as everyone guards this time together.

JOIN A BOOK CLUB. Most libraries have summer reading clubs and contests. To encourage reading, NBC's Today Show's Al Roker has started a book club for children aged 8 - 11 (information is available at, click on the "Books" link). There are discussion questions and the club encourages parents to read with their children.

SET UP GOALS AND REWARDS. Sit down with your child and set a high-but achievable-goal for number of books read. Ask your child what a proper reward might be for achieving that goal. As long as the reward is reasonable, honor it. Keep up with your child-you may want to ask for a brief synopsis of the book or a short book report (what is the book about, who was your favorite character, etc) to make sure your child actually read the book. Also, make sure your student is reading at his or her grade level. There's no point in your 15-year-old reading the same books as your 8-year-old.

TAKE BOOKS ON YOUR ROAD TRIP. If you are going on vacation and spending a lot of time in airports or on the road, leave the CDs, iPods, and DVDs at home and pack books instead. You won't have those fights over what movie to watch next, and books and magazines usually last longer than movies, anyway.

The reading material itself does not matter as much as reading itself. Especially for poor readers, this will urge them on to greater heights. Books, newspapers, magazines, or even ebooks it does not matter, depending on what method you decide to use to encourage reading. The point is that we instill in our children the love of learning.

Make sure your child has a library card and you're all set for the summer!

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