Last night, my family spent two hours and $75 dollars shopping.
We weren't at the toy store.
We weren't at the grocery store.
We weren't at Wal-Mart, KMart, or Target, either!
We were at a book store! We all four (I won't count Robbie, since he was chillin' in the stroller!) spent 2 hours reading and looking at books.
Reading is a priority in our house. It is something we do for pleasure. Our children have seen their father or I with a book in our hands almost every day of their lives. When we pack up to go on a trip, we always include reading material, because we know if we don't...we'll be having to find some once we reach our destination! All four of us who can hold books in our hands read at least once a day: as we prepare to go to sleep. Most of the time, we also read some other time in the day!
As a first grade teacher for 12 years and now as a Reading Specialist, I often have parents ask me what the best thing is they can do to help their child--struggling reader or not--over the summer months when they are not in school. Every single time I am asked, I answer the same: have them read!
Reading is a developmental practice, much like walking or talking or riding a bike: the more you do it, the better you get! Without practicing the skills needed to read, one will not improve. Research has proven this! So if reading is a priority in your household, you're sure to be working toward improving the reading skills of your children!
Though I can't quite fathom it, I know that there are people out there who do not like to read. I hate that for you, truly! I cannot imagine a world without books! Books and stories are friends of mine! But even if you do NOT like to read novels or books in general, do you like to read magazines? Cereal boxes? Directions on model car sets? Anything! Reading is reading...it doesn't have to be done in a conventional way. Show your child that you are reading, and he/she is more likely to pick up the practice him/herself.
What, you say, if I don't have any reading material in my house? EASY answer, folks! Almost every community has a public library in it, where materials can be checked out for a period of time FOR FREE! Many also have summer reading programs for kids. You'll be amazed what you can find in a library!
Well..what if I have books but my child has read them all? Got an answer for that one, too! I'm a member of a great website where books can be exchanged for the low price of postage called PaperBackSwap. All you do is list the books that you are willing to mail to another member if requested and search for books you'd like to order in return! Easy Peasy!
Another suggestion I have is to make a reading challenge. Several bookstores also offer deals for students turning in a list of books read over the summer. Barnes and Noble and Borders are both offering such programs this year, so check them out! If you're not interested in that, how about making a challenge in your own home? How about offering to exchange a toy for reading 15 minutes a day for a period of time? Or maybe everyone agreeing to read for 15 minutes each day, and reminding each other to do so? Or like my family, you may want to make a point to each read for a few minutes as a way to wind down at the end of the day.
For younger children up to third graders, it is perfectly acceptable for you to read to them! This counts in my book as reading, as your child is learning by listening and hearing the rhythm and cadence of your voice. Ask questions about the story you are reading, and tell your child what you find interesting about the story, too!
So what are you waiting for?? I know you're reading now...so go read some more!!
I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms blogging program to be eligible to get an "I Can Read!" book. For more information on how you can participate, click here. "I Can Read!" Books was one of the first ever easy-to-read books that children could read independently, and has been in print ever since. Now with more than 6 million I Can Read! books sold, including 200 titles, I Can Read! books is the best series to take children step by step into the wonderful world of reading on their own. For a full list of books and activities to go along with them visit their website!