Cultivating a summer reader

JULY 2, 2015 By Lori Tharps

When I was a child, my mother’s idea of an economical summer camp was to push me out the door after breakfast and wait for me to return before sunset. While other kids might have been intimidated by a day left unscheduled, I was only too happy to take myself to the library. Every single day. For me, the library was like an endless supply of wonder and fun. There were videos to watch, cassette tapes to listen to, and of course, there were the books.

Every book offered a new opportunity to learn something. One week I found a book about ESP and tried to read people’s minds. Sadly, it didn’t work.

One week I discovered cookbooks and went home and taught myself how to make piecrust from scratch. That was the summer of lemon meringue deliciousness. In my opinion, the library was the most exciting place in the world — and comfortably air-conditioned — to spend my summer.

That’s not the case for many young people today. Thanks to all of the digital options in their lives, a summer spent reading actual books might seem at best old-fashioned, and at worst, plain boring.

If your kids aren’t reading or engaging in other academic pursuits, then they are likely to experience what experts call “summer slide,” losing the equivalent of two months of schooling to be relearned come fall. The dreaded “slide” doesn’t have to happen however, if you can get your kids to fall in love with reading. Here are some ideas to get them on the right track.

Money talks

If it seems wrong to you to pay your child to read a book, let the bank do it for you. TD Bank will deposit $10 in your child’s TD Bank savings account if they read 10 books this summer. For the bank, summer is defined as June 1 to  August 31. There’s anofficial document for your child to record the titles of the books they read, and when it’s filled, all you have to do is take it to a TD Bank branch and the money gets deposited.

Get in the game

The Free Library of Philadelphia wants everybody to read this summer and hassummer reading programs designed for every age group, from preschool to adult. And, there are incentives beyond feeling good about yourself. From lottery drawings and treasure hunts to goodie bags and games, the FLP offers something new every week for participants in their summer reading programs, which vary by branch.

Reading is better with cake

Adults aren’t the only ones who want to talk about what they’re reading. Help your kids create a book club for the summer where they can read a book with a group of friends, and then have a themed gathering to talk about it. Young kids can do this with a picture book, tweens and teens can have a more sophisticated discussion and then do things like watch a film based on the book. And of course everyone can eat cake! For some more ideas about how to start a kids’ book club, check out the Great Schools website.

Finally, the most important thing we as parents can do to get our children to pick up a book, is to pick one up ourselves.

Happy reading!

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