By Beth Richards, Literacy Interventionist, Reading Recovery Teacher, Guest Blogger
The end of this school year has been anything but traditional. Most parents have found themselves engaging with their children’s literacy experiences for the last two months. Kids who usually are eager to interact with technology, are probably looking for a break from the screen. In this blog post, I’ll provide six suggestions for creating successful reading experiences throughout the summer.
1. Engage Their Curiosity
Kids are naturally curious. In the classroom and at home, teachers and parents have experienced the “why” stage, where a young child makes an observation, and immediately follows with “Why?” Take advantage of these opportunities to dig deeper into their wonderings. Kids can create “Why?” books, using a notebook to write down any questions they have, using a new page for each topic. Revisit this notebook often, spending some time together investigating answers to the questions. It can be very tempting to do a Google search, but see if you can help kids search in books instead. Many libraries are offering curbside pickup if that’s an option your family feels comfortable choosing. If not, and you do find yourself utilizing electronic books and resources, make sure to involve the kids.
In these days of online streaming services, it’s easy to get sucked into a series and want to watch it from beginning to end. In the first episode, we get invested in the characters and storyline, and we can’t help but want to see how it all evolves. We connect with certain characters and look forward to their catch phrases or the predictable situations in which they find themselves. Kids experience these emotions as well.
Series books, such as The Hungry Giant series from Hameray, provide an opportunity to engage readers and keep them wanting more. Loveable characters show up in every book, with new adventures keeping the reader’s attention. You can see all of the character sets that Hameray offers here! Younger kids seem to love any series with humorous characters in silly situations. Reading series books with engaging characters is an easy way to interest reluctant readers!
3. Patiently Read or Listen One More Time
It might be confusing when a child only wants to read one particular book repeatedly when there might be a bookshelf filled with other titles. Lean into this. Eventually, the child won’t need to be read to anymore and can instead read it independently with minimal support. Repeated readings (or listenings) of books can help support and develop reading independence. During these unusual times, these familiar books can provide a sense of comfort and stability for our children. So when students come bearing their favorite books, be patient and read it or listen to it one more time. Let them read and reread the books they enjoy.
4. Read Aloud
Reading aloud to students has many important purposes. It serves as a model for fluent and phrased reading, with words parsed into meaningful phrases. It allows children access to books that are difficult enough that they would not be able to access them otherwise.
Watch Joy Cowley read Little Rabbit's Cars in the above video beginning at :29.
Reading aloud enables students to hear more sophisticated literary language that they will encounter as their reading progresses. It can also serve as a way to introduce and develop vocabulary and help them understand how storylines and plots work. Finally, reading aloud provides a shared literacy experience and forms a connection between the reader and the listener(s). Most kids, regardless of age, enjoy being read to. If parents need more guidance on how ensure their read aloud sessions are successful, they check out this post from Hameray's literacy blog.
5. Write Away
Many of the things good readers do are also done in writing. (This is called reciprocity.) Because of this, engaging students in writing activities will also support their reading development. Provide your kids with real-life writing opportunities. Give them an audience. Have them write a shopping list for you, a letter or card to mail to grandma or grandpa, or a book to read to a younger sibling. Let them know how a simple writing activity can brighten someone’s day or be helpful. When writing feels meaningful, personal, or essential, it’s more engaging for kids. If you're looking for more writing prompts, check out this blog post, where you can find an addition five prompts!
6. Keep it Easy
Why would we want to engage in struggles over doing boring or difficult reading and writing experiences? Make sure the reading and writing opportunities you provide your kids are exciting, meaningful, and fun. Here are some examples of how parents can easily (and quickly) incorporate multiple reading and writing experiences in one day:
- In the morning, have your kids write down what they’d like to eat for lunch, or find and read a new recipe that you’ll make together for lunch. They can also write their own chore lists or a grocery list for you.
- After lunch, during quiet time, read to or with your kids.
- In the afternoon, after making some observations about on something outdoors head inside and spend a few minutes investigating. If it’s raining, kids could do an art project, and then write a description to hang next to the art–just like in museums. Or encourage the kids to read to a pet, stuffed animal, or call and read to a friend over the phone.
- At bedtime, read to or with your kids.
The most important thing we can do to help students develop as readers and writers is to engage them in reading and writing opportunities. And to hold their interest, we need to keep the experiences fun, meaningful, and purposeful.
For additional ideas, check out Hameray’s At-Home Learning Series.
Beth has been teaching for seventeen years. She has taught kindergarten, third, and fourth grades in Wisconsin. For the last six years, she has been a literacy interventionist and Reading Recovery teacher and loves spending her days helping her students develop and share her love of reading.