As summer vacation approaches, I am asked again and again about how to keep our children reading during these less structured months. We know well that there are many thrilling pulls to our children’s attention. There are soccer balls, summer swim teams, and video games. Your children won’t have their regular trips to the school library or a teacher tucking a new “just right” book into a book box. But they will have something else: they have you and your interest in their learning and their own curiosity. With a little bit of planning, summer can provide a wealth of opportunities for enjoying the written word.
If you don’t have one already, get a library card at the public library and join their summer reading club. Every local public library has something for your child, some way to keep track of reading, set goals, rejoice in accomplishments, and explore new things. No matter how many books you have at home, your child needs a stack of books to explore – hard books, easy books, and a few that are just right. Avoid judging their selections. If they are choosing the same series every week, add something different to the pile to tempt them, but don’t get too worried about reading level or variety. Let the summer choices be personal choices.
Read aloud as a family. There are plenty of great novels and non-fiction books that will appeal to children and adults of a range of ages. Find time to sit together in a multi-age group and enjoy a story. During my children’s summers, I was the reader when we went on long drives. My husband drove and the kids looked out the window and listened as we followed I-80 into the mountains. I have a pretty strong stomach; you might prefer audio books.
Heading to New York? Read Harriet the Spy before you go. Boston? Try Where Do You Think You Are Going Paul Revere? There is a book for every destination.
Use our summer reading lists (which are posted on the Community Portal). Ask for recommendations, and send me a postcard when you read a great book. I will check my school mailbox regularly.
There is a lot of wisdom in this now classic poster produced by The Horn Book Magazine, titled “Unlucky Arithmetic: Thirteen Ways to Raise a Nonreader.”
Maeve Knoth came to PBS as our librarian in 2013. She is a 4-H community leader, a woman of many diverse talents (including pickling and jam making), and (obviously) an avid reader. Before joining our community, she worked for many years for the San Mateo County Library as a children’s librarian, and in her distant past, she worked at Buckingham, Browne, and Nichols School; the Cambridge Public Library; and Katherine Delmar Burke School.