Friday, June 1, 2012

Guest Blog: Summer Reading Engagement Tips

Summer Reading Engagement Tips

What to read?
Emily A. Swan, Ph.D.

It has been a pleasure to write about ways to help parents engage their children with books! I hope you have learned some things to put into practice in your own homes. I’m sure there are things that have validated what you are already doing! So keep up the good work!

This is the final guest blog, so I will provide some fun SUMMER READING TIPS and a few of our favorite book titles!

Summer Reading Tips

Bottom Line: The most important thing you can do for your kids over the summer is encourage them to READ! In fact, READ WITH THEM. It should NOT, however, be part of a list of chores.

As parents, you can't tell your kids to read and then not read yourself. You need to get caught reading. . .OFTEN. The best thing is to read TOGETHER! It's amazing how fun it is and how much it builds a relationship with your children. It should be on the list of FUN things to do, because it is SO MUCH FUN!!

So, HOW do you make it FUN? Well, it helps to have a GREAT BOOK!! Here are a few (really, just a few; there a so many others out there) that we love at our house. These are books we have read aloud or have read over and over. We hope you try some of them.

Chapter Book suggestions for younger children, age 5-6 and up:

Every girl from grade 1 up (including high school!!) should read The 100 Dresses! It's not so much about dresses as it is about friendship and forgiveness! I HIGHLY recommend that EVERY GIRL read this book and moms can read along with them. It's SUCH a great book with a wonderful message. We read it every year.

For BOYS, a book about adventures to the moon with a boy and his dog is Journey To The Blue Moon. The language in this book is hilarious! It is so much FUN to read aloud. Boys of all ages will love to listen to it or they can read it on their own from about grade 3-4 up.

I also cannot stress enough how fabulous a writer Kate DiCamillo is! We have read everything she's written and are always waiting for her next book. I have just recently read The Tale of Despereaux with my 5 year old car and truck-loving, bike-riding son. He always says "Just one more chapter. Don't stop reading yet!" Those are my favorite words! The language in The Tale of Despereayx is incredible and draws kids of ALL ages into the story. If you've seen the movie, so what. Read the book and then watch the movie. We loved comparing the movie to the book after we read the book. The books are ALWAYS better than the movies! Read this one for sure. It's for all ages. Other favorites we have read over and over by Kate DiCamillo include Because of Winn Dixie, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and The Mercy Watson series! After Tale.. we read The Miraculous Journey… and my son loved that one too.

Another incredible writer we love is E.B. White. We read Charlotte's Web about every summer too. Trumpet of the Swans (no relation!) is also fabulous.

Other great book suggestions for kids in grades 4 up include:

Moon Over Manifest

Walk Two Moons

When You Reach Me

A Long Way from Chicago

The View From Saturday

Inside Out and Back Again

The Secret Series

A Series of Unfortunate Events (all 13!)

Each Little Bird That Sings (dog book. beware. Dog books are sad!)

Shiloh (another dog book)

Where the Red Fern Grows (really sad dog book)

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (series)

A Year Without Autumn

The Bridge to Terebithia

The Mysterious Benedict Society (series)

The Willoughbys

The Giver (Lois Lowry is an amazing author too!)

Number the Stars

Maniac Magee (and many other Jerry Spinelli books! Great books for boys!)

(you'll notice I don't have the Hunger Games series on this list. Parents have asked me about what I think about this series. I know how popular it is right now. I personally think it is not appropriate for kids under the age of 13 or 14. I don't care about popularity. Please use your own parental guidance; some children do fine with it. Other kids are very sensitive, and in that case, I do not recommend it until Jr. High.)


If you are traveling, whether it's to Lake Powell or to France READ ABOUT IT! What INTERESTS do your kids have? Get books about your kids' INTERESTS!! What do they talk about? nature, bugs, sharks, tide pools, beaches, tornadoes? Get books about what your kids talk about. Read with them and keep talking. Read on the trampoline, at dusk. Read in a tent when you're camping, by flashlight. Read a chapter a night, EVERY night, all summer! Seriously. You can never get these early years back. The time you spend NOT reading can NEVER be made up in any other way. Remember that you want to expose your kids to millions of words per year and you now have a nice, long, summer to catch up! Set a goal to have your child read 10 books over the summer, or 5, whatever. Then, if they meet their goal---BUY THEM MORE BOOKS!! No prizes, candy, stickers, games. Books are the rewards for reading. Getting smart is the reward for reading. Building a relationship with your kids is the reward for reading with your kids. Having a great conversation at dinner, unplugged, is the reward for reading!

Salt Lake City Library has GREAT Summer activities planned at various branches!

Dinosaur Train Nature Trackers

Magician Paul Brewer

Superhero Storytime

Zoo Mania

Phun with Physics

Dream Mural Workshop with Discovery Gateway

The Lion and the Mouse

Build Me a Story

Storytime in the Garden

…and SO much more!

Check out the great summer schedule at

Make it a GREAT SUMMER!!

If you are interested in how to build literacy skills over the summer with your preschooler or Kindergartener. . . My business partner Michelle Roderick and I have created a tool for parents to maximize the time they spend reading to their young children. One tool that will soon be available to parents, grandparents, babysitters, or other caretakers, is our product called DiscoverLit Kits. These wonderful kits are designed around a book (e.g., Bugs) and we have written research-based activities around these wonderful books that increase comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, word study/phonics, and writing. We include easy step-by-step instructions for mothers and others that are easy to follow. We also integrate math, science, or art into our kits to extend learning. They help parents and children discover the fun of literacy. . .in a kit. The kit ships right to your door and all of the materials for the activities are included IN the kit. Simply choose an activity per day. Do as many or as few as you want. You can do them in any order. Easy. Convenient. Portable. We take parents and young children through the steps of creating interest, questioning, discovering, reading, sharing, and making connections. Our goal is to help parents know how to prepare their Preschooler or Kindergartener for school during the summer months. We will soon have kits for grades K-1 too. By fall, we’ll have kits for grades 2-3 and 3-4. We are excited to be able to help parents motivate their children in fun, meaningful ways that truly build lifelong skills and build special relationships between parent and child, by reading together.  

****We can not thank Emily enough!! We hope this give you a jump start to your reading programs this summer! Stay tooned for a great class that we will be offering!!

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