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Fun Tips and Tricks to Encourage Reading and Writing This Summer

Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed. | The Children’s Book Review | June 11, 2019

Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing Column 2

This editorial article was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed. and made possible by TCBR sponsor Carole P. Roman, the author of more than fifty-two award-winning books. Avoid the summer slide and sail into summer reading with the swashbuckling adventures of Captain No Beard! Heave! Ho!

How to Avoid the “Summer Slide” Part 2

As we discussed last month in How to Weave a Little Reading and Writing into the Summer Break, there are so many fun tips and tricks to avoid losing any of the literacy skills your child worked so hard to make throughout the school year. Whether you’re traveling or staying close to home, here are four more ideas perfect for weaving reading and writing into your summer days!

Encourage Nonfiction Reading: Do some Research

Going somewhere fun this summer? Exploring somewhere new? Planning to see a new animal at the zoo? Help or encourage your child to do some research on a specific place or creature that they have a special interest in. Whether it involves going to the public library, book store, or researching online, this is a great way to incorporate a little nonfiction reading into the summer. Nonfiction reading helps build background knowledge, introduces tons of cool, new vocabulary and helps build comprehension skills­–an essential lifelong skill. Here are some tips on how to tackle nonfiction texts:

  • Discuss what the nonfiction genre is: true facts.
  • Explain what makes nonfiction texts special: text features such as photographs, captions, headings, subheadings, table of contents, bold vocabulary words, and a glossary.
  • Help your child to find and explore various nonfiction books and/or texts at your local library, bookstore, or online on the topic of his/her choice.
  • Have your child read the texts independently, or with you. Remind them that one of the cool things about nonfiction is that readers don’t have to read it start to finish; a reader can instead explore the table of contents, choose a chapter that they find most interesting, and start there. Readers can also browse through the photographs, captions, fact boxes, etc.
  • Encourage your child to write about what they learned (in their summer journal perhaps!), such as a summary of their reading, something they found interesting, or some of their favorite facts. In addition, have them share and discuss their findings with friends or family members.

Extension Ideas:

  • Create a research book! Encourage your child to conduct research on various topics over the summer and compile them into a book. Not only will your child keep their brain engaged in topics that are interesting to him/her, they will also have a memory book of their special summer, too.
  • If your child enjoyed reading nonfiction, introduce them to various nonfiction book series, such as The Magic School Bus, The Magic Tree House, Who Was…, National Geographic and “I Survived”.  You can find loads of amazing non-fiction books listed here on The Children’s Book Review.

Incorporate Literacy Activities into Car Rides

There are plenty of ways that time in the car can help avoid the summer slide! Here are just a few ideas:

  • Listen to books on tape–this is an all-time favorite activity! It makes for nice, quiet car rides and great discussions later to help enhance those oral language skills. In addition, the more books children are exposed to, the more “text to text” connections they will be able to make. Making connections is a beneficial reading strategy that is essential for comprehending texts, and enjoying them, too.
  • Always have plenty of books on hand in the car, maybe even ones that you picked out on your own. Nothing piques a kid’s curiosity more than something they have never seen before.
  • Encourage your child to bring their summer journal along for car rides, too. You never know what might inspire them to start drawing or writing. It is also a great time to practice spelling words you might see or call out to them. In case you missed it, you can find tips for starting and keeping a summer journal in the article How to Weave a Little Reading and Writing into the Summer Break.
  • Stock up on good old-fashioned mad libs for car rides–a great way to have fun and practice grammar!
  • Play Round Robin Storytelling–it’s a great way to use the imagination. Take turns inventing a story. One passenger makes up the beginning of the story and then the other passengers continue it. Try to incorporate landmarks, signs, or other things you see out your car windows into the story. This is also a nice way to remind kids about the parts of fiction such as characters, setting, plot (important events), and theme.
  • Play any variation of “I’m going to the Grocery Store and I’m buying a….” game. This memory game is great for kids. The first player says “I’m going to the grocery store and I’m going to buy…” The second player repeats what the first person said, but adds another item.  Each player has to remember everything the previous players are going to get at the store, plus their own item. Another version of this game can help reinforce alphabet knowledge for younger kids–a huge pre-reading skill! The first item starts with an A, then a B and so on.

Recommend a Book to a Friend

One of the simplest ways to avoid the summer slide is to read and write a little everyday, or as much as possible when the opportunity presents itself. One way to motivate kids to read every day (in addition to the goals and incentives chart described in How to Weave a Little Reading and Writing into the Summer Break) is to encourage them to write book recommendations. There is no right or wrong way to recommend a book. Here are a few ideas for what to include when writing them:

  • Include the book title, author, genre and summary. Remind kids that a summary is an overview of what the book was mostly about; not all the tiny, intricate details. Most importantly, explain why you would recommend the book.
  • Explain your favorite part of the book and why?
  • Explain your favorite character and why?
  • Draw a picture of your favorite scene. Be sure to explain the scene in writing and why it was your favorite.
  • If the book was nonfiction, what did you learn from it? Who would you recommend it to and why?

Lastly, Don’t Forget: Join your Local Library’s Summer Reading Program

“During the summer months, while not in school, students who lack access to learning opportunities lose anywhere between 1-3 months of reading and math skills. This phenomenon is called summer learning loss or summer slide. The Denver Public Library’s Summer of Adventure program encourages youth from birth to 12th grade to grow, learn and have fun. The Summer of Adventure program provides youth with opportunities for informal learning and activities to help youth retain academic and social skills throughout the summer months. And best of all, it’s FREE!” What does your local library offer over the summer? Hurry up and be sure to check it out!

Thank you for reading the Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing column. Bookmark this link or subscribe to our e-newsletter so you do not miss out on the monthly reading tips. Fun Tips and Tricks to Encourage Reading and Writing This Summer: How to Avoid the Summer Slide Part 2 was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.—follow her on Instagram: @wildflower_learning_denver.

Lizzie loves literacy. And alliteration! With over a decade of classroom teaching experience, and years of one on one reading and dyslexia intervention, Lizzie understands the challenges and rewards of engaging with young readers. Her passion for helping children overcome learning difficulties to fall in love with reading led to the launch of Wildflower Learning; a private practice that serves the needs of young readers in Denver, CO. Follow @wildflower_learning_denver on Instagram for more literacy tips & tricks.

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