Lakewood, WA — School’s out for summer, but that doesn’t mean that learning has to stop altogether. In fact, says Erica Hwang, Director of the Huntington Learning Center of Lakewood, summer is the perfect time for children to hit the books – for fun. “During the school year, most children have very little time to read for the pure enjoyment of it,” says Hwang. “The freedom of summer break creates a great opportunity for children to explore interests, expand their horizons and entertain themselves through reading.”
How can parents help their child develop a reading habit this summer? Hwang offers these five suggestions:
1. Visit the library. During the summer months, many libraries put on summer reading programs for kids of all ages, providing reading logs, awarding prizes to participants and hosting a variety of fun events to get the whole family involved. Even if your library doesn’t have such a program, regular library trips are still one of the best ways to get your child interested in books and reading.
2. Make it a family activity. When a child is young, bedtime reading may be part of the nightly routine, but as he or she progresses through school, evenings are often filled with extracurricular activities, homework and dinner. This summer, designate a time each day when every member of the family can unwind with a good book. Just 20 minutes of daily reading will improve your child’s language, writing, spelling and of course, reading skills.
3. Check out online summer reading programs. Sometimes, a little recognition and reward is excellent motivation for a child. If your library doesn’t have a summer reading program or contest, consider one of the following online alternatives:
· Scholastic’s Summer Challenge groups children into reading teams that compete for prizes. Readers log minutes read each day.
· Barnes & Noble Summer Reading – Download a summer reading journal for your child in which he or she can record favorite parts of books. Kids who read eight books and bring their completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store before September 7, 2009 will receive a coupon for a free book.
4. Read for the fun of it. The more you force reading upon your child, the less he or she will want to read, so remember – let your child choose his or her reading material. If your child is hooked on comic books all summer, or chooses material he or she has read before, that’s okay. You can, however, gently encourage your child by suggesting books on people, sports, activities or other subjects of interest. If your son is a baseball fanatic, for example, how about picking up a biography of his favorite player?
5. Show interest. As any member of a book club will attest, it is fun to talk with others about books you’ve read and exchange opinions. If your child is too young to join a formal book club offered at the library, express interest in what he or she is reading. Emulate his or her enthusiasm and ask many questions. Again – if your child gets excited about a book, it’s much more likely that he or she will want to continue reading.