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Parents are facing a unique challenge this summer. Beyond tending to a child’s health, safety, physical needs and emotional concerns, there’s another major test: keeping kids engaged in their education.
In any given year, some parents worry that their kids will experience a “summer slide,” falling back in certain skills such as reading, and then struggling to catch up when school resumes.
But, this year many parents are concerned about what their kids have learned – and will learn – throughout 2020, not just during the summer.
Fortunately, there is something parents can do: actively keep their kids engaged in reading this summer.
Newspapers offer a great starting point, because they offer great stories (such as the one about in-orbit storybook readings!) and notices of interesting events and activities. Kids’ magazines are bright and cheerful, and have short articles on timely fads, fashions, food and other fun.
Children also are highly motivated to read instructions, directions and rules as they build things, try experiments, make crafts, play board games or explore new sports. And, of course, there’s a cornucopia of reading material on computers: news, sports scores, comics, recipes, crafts, DIY projects and stories.
Our favorite reading material is still a good book. If your child loves a certain topic, there’s probably a book about it, in a genre that he or she likes to read: fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, mysteries, thrillers, action, adventure, graphic novels, science fiction and so on.
Here are prime places to find, borrow, or buy quality books that your kids will love to read this summer:
Your Local Library
Some libraries may have limited programs this summer, but many have online and digital services that you can explore.
Their offerings are almost always free, but you may need a library card number to join programs or access digital book offerings. We’ve seen libraries offer such things as:
• Free access to a range of downloadable e-books
• Virtual programs in which books are being written in real time, with new chapters shared weekly
• Digital book club meetings or online reading challenges
• Livestreamed story hours and poetry readings
• Virtual puppet shows and storytelling
• Webcasts on topics such as national parks, art contests, finger painting, and family Q&As with real scientists.
Digital Books and
While not always free, there are many sources of electronic books to download for kids to read on their computers or other devices.
Some of these services offer trial periods for subscriptions. Check out:
• Epic – Aimed at kids 12 and under, this e-book web site features 40,000 books, a 30-day free trial (then 7.99 per month) with ways to sort books by age, reading level and interests.
• Kindle Books – Amazon’s e-books can be read on any device with the right software, and there are many free books available.
• KidLit TV – This site has free videos of books read aloud, with insights from authors and artists.
Don’t overlook video streaming services as a means to inspire kids to read. Netflix has movies based on children’s books – the BFG, Charlotte’s Web, Goosebumps, Paddington, Tintin – which kids can watch in tandem with reading the books themselves.
Amazon Prime Video offers older segments from PBS’s Reading Rainbow series, which blend fun themes with read-aloud books.
Your Local Bookstore
Consider buying books, games, workbooks and puzzle books from your favorite local bookstore.
Although some may not be open for visits, they may offer pick-up or delivery.
Here are a few things we’ve seen bookstores doing to engage young readers:
• Virtual book launches and readings by authors
• Virtual story times and trivia games
• Free activity sheets for kids
• Live video chats with store owners, who will show books on their shelves or in your area of interest
• Virtual book clubs and online book fairs.
Remember that the best reading goals for children are the ones that will keep them reading enthusiastically.
Provide a variety of reading materials to keep the learning process both challenging and rewarding.
Finally, if you add a dose of fun to reading activities – and make it a family affair – kids are more likely to stay excited about reading all summer and, hopefully, all year long. So, have fun and keep on reading!