Jen Curran is the Director of National Program at Jumpstart.
Ah, summer. How can one word have the power to conjure up so many wonderful memories? When I was in elementary school, the anticipation of summer vacation was like the night before Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one: swimming, trading stickers, and choreographing dance moves with friends to our favorite songs were always top choices for passing lazy summer days. However, nothing compared to my excitement for the start of the reading program at my town library. I loved the cold blast of air that greeted me on a hot day and the smell of books, both new and old. Now that I’m a mom, I have the opportunity to create cherished summer reading memories for my two daughters. Weekend trips to the library are at the top of our summer to-do list!
Below are seven stress-free ideas for making reading an unforgettable memory for your children this summer:
- Encourage reading on outings and trips: Keep a stack of your child’s favorite books in the car or stash lightweight paperback books in your suitcase. Play city bingo by encouraging your child to find specific traffic signs or letters on billboards while driving or riding public transportation.
- Read aloud to your child every day: Set aside a specific time each day to read with your child. Make reading fun by taking books with you to the park, reading with friends in the backyard or by creating a special “book nook” place in your house.
- Plan trips to the library: Check out the summer reading program at your local library. Many libraries offer special summer activities – large group story times, puppet shows, and games – as part of their summer programming. Remember that librarians are always willing to suggest new books based on your children’s interests- just ask!
- Be a positive role model: Turn off the television and put down the cell phone! When children see mom and dad reading on a regular basis, they begin to understand its value and importance. Make sure to have a variety of reading materials- newspaper, books, and magazines visible in the home.
- Connect book themes to summer experiences: Going on a camping trip or an outing to the beach? Select books that are associated with summer activities. For example, read a book about trains before visiting the train museum to introduce key vocabulary to your child and extend your child’s learning and comprehension during the actual activity.
- Create a neighborhood library: Construct a structure with your children that can be put in front of your home that serves as a free lending “library” for neighbors. Using the “take a book, leave a book” concept, fill your library with starter books for children and adults. Anyone may stop by to take a book or leave a book for others. Children will enjoy the sense of community created around shared stories.
- Make a book about summer: Document your summer activities in a handmade book that you create with your child using construction paper and yarn. Include mementos from favorite summer activities such as baseball ticket stubs, photos or airline artifacts.
Summer is the perfect time to spend quality time with your children and nurture their love of reading. Whatever adventures come your family’s way during these hot summer months, remember to read, read, read!