Category Archives: summer

Summertime Reading with Your Children

by Katrina Morse, for Family Reading Partnership

Pieces of chalk and a driveway, a cardboard box in the grass, flour and sugar in the kitchen, or a stick on a sandy beach–children only need common, everyPiece of Chalkday items, a long summer day, and your encouragement, to have fun. Jumpstart their imaginations by reading children’s books about picnics, swimming, berry picking, exploring and other summer activities, and then do them! You’ll be making children’s books “come alive” and giving your child the connection between new words and what they mean, while creating colorful childhood memories.

Did you ever make drawings, hopscotch games, or start lines for races with chalk on the sidewalk or driveway when you were young? Give your children the same experience. With a few colored sticks of chalk a child can draw all day. The next rain will wash away the chalk to make a blank slate for another time. “A Piece of Chalk” by Jennifer Ericsson, illustrations by Michelle Shapiro, follows a little girl as she creates a chalk drawing the width of her driveway. The book names many colors and playfully relates the colors to the objects in the girl’s yard.

Beach DayAre you going to spend some time at the ocean while the weather is warm? Read “Beach Day” by Karen Roosa, illustrated by Maggie Smith, and learn about the simple pleasures provided by a shovel and a pail. If you are staying closer to home and visiting a lake, compare the animals and activities in this book to the experience at the lake. What is the same; what is different? Younger children will have fun with the rhyming text.

“One, two, three. Ready or not, here I come!” Hide and seek has been a favorite game of children for generations. The book “Gotcha, Louie!” by H.M. Ehrlich, illustrated by Emily Bolam, is a simple book about a small boy and his family playing hide and seek on vacation. Who will find Louie in the tall grass?

Yum! Homemade cake! “What’s Cookin’?” by Nancy Coffelt is a counting and baking book. On each turn of the page there is a “knock, knock, knock,” and someone else comes into the kitchen with another ingredient to add to the mixing bowl. The delightful illustrations continue onto pages at the back of the book that give ideas of activities to do while baking and a recipe for “Cousin Alice’s Easy Layer Cake” and “Quick Chocolate Frosting.”

Secret hiding places, magic houses, and even entire pretend towns are part of childhood. “Roxaboxen” by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney, is about a special place called Roxaboxen that comes to life with the imagination of the children in this Arizona landscape. With little, white stones, wooden crates, and items found in the sand, the children create streets and houses. When the children grow up, they come back and find the traces of Roxaboxen still there.

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Filed under family, family reading, family time, reading outside, summer, summer reading

Read All Summer Long!

girl reading

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator

Have you heard of the ‘summer slide’? Not the slide at the park, the slide that affects learning and the retention of knowledge. Did you know that children regress in their academic skills during the summer months? Fortunately, this can be avoided with one simple act- reading! Reading throughout the summer can prevent the loss of skills and knowledge and is a great activity to do with your child. Check out the tips below for planning a successful summer of reading.

Model Reading
Let your child see you finding pleasure in reading each day!

Read Together
Read aloud to your child, or have an older sibling or family friend read with him or her. Let your child read to a younger child, the family pet, or a favorite stuffed animal!

Let Them Decide
Let your child choose what he or she reads. Remember- newspapers, magazines, and comic books count!

Make Time
Set aside time each day to read. Make it an enjoyable time that everyone looks forward to! You can create a reading area with comfy blankets and a spot for books- inside or outside!

Take Reading on the Road
Whether you’re headed to the park down the street, a friend’s house the next town over or to visit family across the country, don’t leave home without something to read! Reading in the perfect way to occupy the lulls of travel time.

Host a Book SwapInvite your friends to gather up some books they are ready to pass on, and then get together to trade. You’ll have something new to read and the books will find new homes.

For more activity ideas, please visit www.familyreading.org.

 

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Filed under activities, benefits of reading together, book activites, can do, children's books, Creating a Book Home, creativity, easy readers, exploration, family, family reading, library, non-fiction, Read to me, reading outside, siblings, summer, summer reading

Exploring Nature with Books

 

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator

With longer, warmer days and the foliage in full bloom, summer presents a great opportunity to explore the outside world. Imagine walks through the forest, lingering in a garden, swimming and playing in the stream, and laying out at night to discover the constellations. While enjoying these marvelous adventures, don’t forget to bring along some books!

Books enhance outdoor experiences by getting children excited about the possibilities of what can be found right in their own backyard or most any green space. Books inspire children to seek out the magic of the intricately spun web of the spider, the fragrant, spiky needles of the pine, and the pillowy, low-hanging cumulus clouds. Books, particularly field guides and nature focused non-fiction, offer a deeper look at living things and natural occurrences by providing facts, real photographs and/or life-like illustrations, information about life cycles, habitats and diets, and also answers to the many questions children are sure to have when they come across one of nature’s wonders. Field guides are designed to be portable, making them easy to bring along on any outdoor adventure. Plus, there are guides on just about any topic of interest, from amphibians to fossils to mushrooms.

Not only do books and field guides allow a child to explore the world local to them more deeply, they also open up entire new worlds of faraway places like jungles, deserts, outer space and oceans. All of these places (and many more!) can be explored through books. Apart from actually visiting these places, books are the next best way to be immersed in these unfamiliar worlds. As a bonus, you can travel to these places as often as you’d like!

An outdoor adventure can be many things: a visit to a waterfall, a nature walk through downtown, an afternoon at the park, or an afternoon examining the different types of stones in the driveway. Books are the best accessories for these moments, piquing children’s interests and offering more information about their world, introducing unique words and encouraging the practice of never ending exploration. Reading can happen any time, any place — even (and especially) when discovering the outdoors!

Take some books on your next adventure! You can find many field guides and nature focused non-fiction books at the library and your local bookseller. Here are some to get you started:

“The Tree Book for Kids and their Grown Ups: by Gina Ingoglia
“Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World” by Julia Rothman
“The Night Books: Exploring Nature After Dark with Activities, Experiments, and Information” by Pamela Hickman
“Nature’s Day: Discover the World of Wonder on Your Doorstep” by Kay Maguire
“Backyard Birds (Field Guides for Young Naturalists)” by Karen Stray Nolting and Jonathan Latimer
“Insects (National Audubon Society’s First Field Guides)” by Christina Wildson
“Wildflowers (National Audubon Society’s First Field Guides)” by Susan Hood
“Clouds (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Anne Rockwell

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Filed under activities, autumn, book activites, books for toddlers, can do, children's books, exploration, family, family reading, field guides, library, movement, nature, non-fiction, reading outside, science books, spring, summer, summer reading, unique words, winter

The Gift of Possibility

 

reading outside

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

As it is for many families, the last day of school is an exciting event in my home. Beyond the thoughts of long summer days filled with swimming, hiking and ice cream, and late nights filled with bonfires, lightning bugs, and a sparkling, starry sky, is the anticipation of what has come to be known as, ‘the summer bags’. The summer bags are simple- usually brown paper sacks decorated with each child’s name and a fun summer scene that the kids excitedly open as soon as they return home on the last day of school. Now, you ask, what’s inside that makes these bags so exciting? Books.

Books purchased for the occasion from local booksellers, books passed down from friends, books from a Bright Red Bookshelf, and books long forgotten on our own bookshelves. Plenty of books. There may also be magazines and homemade gift certificates for summer activities, but always books. These books, thoughtfully chosen and presented as gifts, become treasures waiting to be discovered during chilly mornings and rainy afternoons, or read with a flashlight during too-warm, sleepless nights. These books hold endless possibilities and become the inspiration for outdoor play and art projects. They become a friend when boredom strikes, are the best reason to curl up in a hammock, and are the perfect activity for a long car ride. They can be taken anywhere and enjoyed everywhere.

Not only do the books from the summer bags provide entertainment and companionship, they also help protect the valuable skills and lessons my children gained throughout the school year. Reading during the summer helps all children retain information and expand their knowledge, preventing them from losing valuable skills and having to work extra hard to catch up in the fall when school starts up again. Children who lose skills over the summer find themselves even further behind their peers because while they are regaining skills previously learned, their peers who don’t need to catch up are already moving on to more advanced skills. Summer reading is both a pleasure and a necessary activity.

My children see the books they receive in their summer bags as a gift. And they are. These books are a gift that will introduce unique words not used in everyday conversation and will provide a glimpse into unfamiliar worlds. These books are a gift that will expand on and challenge the knowledge of what is already known. These books are a gift that will be opened again and again and their influence felt long after they have been read. Books are a gift with unlimited potential in how they shape a person’s life. My children perceive their summer bags as gifts of fun summer reading. I see them as gifts that contain endless possibilities.

 

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Filed under activities, book activites, can do, children's books, Creating a Book Home, family, family book traditions, family reading, library, summer, summer reading, traditions, transitions

Reading On the Run

by Melissa Perry, Program Coordinator, Family Reading Partnership

With many families taking some sort of vacation this summer, there will be a lot of time spent on the road travelling with children. While traveling can be an exciting adventure, with opportunities to explore the world, experience new things, and create family memories, the reality is that it can also be stressful- especially when taking road trips with children. Fortunately, travel time is the perfect opportunity for children to enjoy the pleasure of reading! Not only is it a fun, quiet activity that can fill long stretches of time, it also lends itself to the discovery of far off lands and incredible people. (All of this to say nothing about the importance of reading to fend off summer learning loss!)

It’s simple to outfit a vehicle with a variety of literacy material within easy reach of your children, keeping them occupied to read to themselves, or read to you, the driver! Stash some books in the seat pockets or buckle in a milk crate or a backpack in the center seat and fill with books. It’s fun to bring along a few favorites and add some books related to your destination or journey along the way. Learning about the states or big cities you plan to travel through, the vehicles seen on the roads, or activities you may be doing on your trip, such as fishing, camping, or visiting Grandma. There is an abundance of books that can capture the attention of your young travelers. Books are the perfect travel companions because they can be read again and again and children can read them to each other. Bring along small clip-on book lights for nighttime reading. Don’t forget that comic books, joke books, I spy books, magazines, and graphic novels count, too!

Another great way to weave literacy into your car trip is to borrow a few recorded books to enjoy while traveling. There are many options at your local library and it’s something the whole family can enjoy together, naturally encouraging conversations about predicting what may happen next, what each character could have done differently in the story, or what may have happened with the characters before the story began. Adults can also check out a few recorded books of their own and pop those in while the kids are asleep.

With over two-thirds of the population of young children in the US having regular access to an e-reader or tablet of some sort, it may seem logical to leave the printed books and recorded books at home, opting instead for the electronic versions of books. However, if your intention is to encourage your children to read while on the road, it’s useful to know that only about half the number of children using an electronic device use it for reading. And even at that rate, electronic devices only hold a reader’s attention for five minutes per day; compared to 30 minutes per day a child will read printed books. That’s a significant difference!

So, as you pack the car for your next family adventure, be sure to include reading material for every member of the clan, including the adults to model reading as a pleasurable, relaxing, and valuable activity. You can even create simple activity kits that relate to the books you have decided to bring along that extend the experience for little ones and keep them occupied just that much longer. Consider small toys such as finger puppets, small animal figurines, or, my favorite, a notebook and crayons. A theme-based snack can be a fun addition, too!

NextStopGrandCentral

Some fun travel themed books to check out include:

“Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go”
“Our 50 States” by Lynne Cheney
“Road Trip” by Roger Eschbacher
“Swimmy” by Leo Lionni
“S is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet” by Helen Foster James
“Mister Seahorse” by Eric Carle
“Planes” by Byron Barton
“Dear Zoo” by Rod Campbell
“Next Stop Grand Central” by Maira Kalman
“A Bear Called Paddington” by Michael Bond
“Wabi Sabi” by Mark Reibstein
“Fly High, Fly Lo” by Don Freeman

For older readers:

“The Magic Tree House” series by Mary Pop Osborne
“From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” by E.L. Konigsburg
“The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick
“The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Perilous Journey” by Trenton Lee Stewart

 

Happy reading on the run!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under activities, book activites, can do, children's books, family reading, siblings, summer

Reading Fits into the Flow of Summer

How is your summer going? What have the kids been doing to keep busy? Running, jumping, swimming, exploring, and hopefully some relaxing have all been part of your family’s summer fun.

Summer reading fits right into the flow. Read a book aloud with your children for some quiet time and then get up and go with a related activity to make the book come alive! Here are some suggestions:

SalRoomcolor

  • Read “The Salamander Room” by Anne Mazer, then go on a walk in your neighborhood and look under rocks, in streams, and in trees for creatures you may not usually notice.
  • Read “The Doorbell Rang” by Pat Hutchins, then bake some cookies and count them. If you eat 2 cookies, how many are left? What kind of cookies did you make? Did you follow a recipe in a cookbook?
  • Read “How Rocket Learned to Read” by Tad Hills, then write an alphabet letter in mud with a stick or in sand with your finger. A good letter for any child to learn is the first letter of his or her name.
  • Read “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” by Mo Willems, then take a bus ride. Where did you go on the bus? Who did you see? Who drove the bus?
  • Feast for 10Read “Feast for Ten” by Cathryn Falwell, then go grocery shopping together. Make a list of what you need for the day. Check off each item on your list as you find it and put it in your cart.
  • Read “Aunt Flossie’s Hats (and Crab Cakes Later)” by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard, then try on all the hats you have at home. What shapes, colors, and sizes of hats does your family wear?
  • Read “Feathers for Lunch” by Lois Ehlert, then go on a walk to look for birds. You’ll find out the names of some local birds, what they look like, and what their call sounds like in this book. Can you spot any near where you live?
  • Read “A Splendid Friend, Indeed” by Suzanne Bloom and ask a friend to come over and share a snack. Or you could ask your friend to play a game or draw a picture. What do you like to do with your friends?

Have a great summer!

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