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Seven Tips to Keep Kids Reading All Summer

June 25, 2011
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From Daily Herald:

7 tips to keep kids reading all summer

Natalie Hollingshead – Correspondent | Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 12:03 am

School may be out for the summer, but if you want your kids to be in teachers’ good books come fall, don’t forget about summer reading.

Children should be reading summer-long in order to maintain their skills and gain a love of reading, says Venus Ernst, a reading specialist with the Nebo School District. The Daily Herald interviewed Ernst for her tips on keeping kids’ noses in books throughout summer break.

Ernst works at Cherry Creek Elementary and Sage Creek Elementary in Springville to help kids develop their literacy skills. A longtime teacher, Ernst has a master’s in education and literacy special endorsements in levels one and two. Here are her tips for hitting the books this summer:

1. Pick a program: In order to keep kids motivated and on track, Ernst suggests participating in a summer reading program. “We all know that many children need some extrinsic reward for reading,” Ernst said. “We hope that by the time they’re in the upper grades in elementary school they are starting to develop that intrinsic love of books and want to read just because they love to read.”

Many grade schools have summer reading programs for their students. Bookstores and libraries often offer programs, too, and Ernst encourages students to also participate in the Governor’s Summer Reading Program.

2. Time it right: Children in lower grades should be reading 20 to 30 minutes a day and part of that time can include a parent or caregiver reading to a child, Ernst says. Children in the upper grades should be reading 30 minutes to one hour a day.

3. Quiet down: To facilitate reading, Ernst suggests giving kids a quiet place to relax and read. “I think we need to provide kids spaces where they can have a quite time during the day,” Ernst said. Keep the space free from TV and other distractions so they can have uninterrupted reading time.

4. Mix things up: Provide children with reading material in a variety of genres, Ernst says. Elementary-aged children should be reading fiction and non-fiction books that cover a range of genres, like science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction. “Usually, children will discover that they love one area over another but it helps to expand their repertoire of books so they can really understand the different genres and what they offer,” she said.

If a child is excited to read about a subject but the book is higher than their current reading level, Ernst suggests letting the child read the book, anyway. “Occasionally a child will want to read about something that is harder than they’re used to, and we need to let them check out those books. They’ll work their way through it if they really want to know about the subject,” she said.

5. Many materials: Summer reading should include reading material of all lengths, from chapter books to short stories to magazines. “There are times when you want to read something short so you pick up a magazine to read,” Ernst said. “Kids should have the same things available for them. Make sure every child has a library card.”

6. Talk about it: Take time talk to kids about what they’re reading and about what you’re reading, too. “If the parents are talking about books they are reading, then the kids see reading as being worthwhile,” Ernst said. Let your children see you reading and enjoying it, and they’re more likely to want to read, too.

7. Write it down: “There is a strong reciprocity between reading and writing,” Ernst said. “Children should be given opportunities to write, whether it be email or letters to grandparents or friends, so their writing skills continue to grow along with their reading skills.”

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