Tips from the Literacy Studies Program at Hofstra
Drs. Alan Flurkey and Debra Goodman, professors in Hofstra’s Literacy Studies program, write to encourage parents to let children feast on one of the great fruits of summer: reading for pleasure. Despite summer’s long days, the pace of our lives doesn’t really slow down, even though we would like it to. It just seems to change direction. Kids spend their days playing sports, at summer camp, and hanging out with friends, but summer is also an ideal time for them to feed their imaginations by reading for pleasure.
Reading for pleasure is different from the school-assigned reading that teachers give to children to complete over the summer. When one reads for pleasure, there is no specific goal or outcome other than simply falling into a story or pursuing a topic of interest. Recreational reading promotes the joy of reading and cultivates lifelong learning. Encourage children with the tips below.
Self-selection is important: Because schools often have required summer reading, it is important that children have an opportunity to choose books they find interesting and engaging. We learn to read through reading, and children will read more if they read books they enjoy. Selecting their own books helps children get to know themselves as readers. Encourage children to explore a new subject or genre.
Visit your local library: Children’s librarians have a wealth of information, and local libraries have story hours, clubs and activities that invite children to browse and read.
Select books based on summer experiences: If a family vacation is planned, select a children’s tour book or story that takes place at your summer destination. If the family is going to be experiencing a new type of activity together (e.g., camping or boating) pick a story or informational book that explores that activity. Children’s hobby, craft or cookbooks combine reading with other interests.
Explore picture books for all ages: Illustrations introduce children to making meaning through art. Encourage children to look closely at the art in picture books. Many picture books are appropriate for older children; and graphic novels provide a creative fiction/art/comic book experience to entice older children.
Get started on summer reading by:
- Reading the first book in a series. If children enjoy the first book, they will be eager to go on to the second and those thereafter.
- Re-read favorite books or read other books by the same author. Quality books provide a new and enriched experience on subsequent readings.
Continue to engage in shared reading experiences: We often read to young children, but shared reading experiences are also enjoyable for older children who can read on their own. Make time to read aloud to one another and to discuss the stories being read. Select books that engage in exploring varied cultural themes or expanded perspectives.
Carve out pleasurable family reading times: Plan family reading times when everyone is reading their own selections. Studies have shown that children are more likely to be readers if they see their parents engaged in recreational reading. Treat children to a later bedtime – allow them to stay up an extra half hour later so they can spend that time reading.
Connect reading activities with online experiences: Many authors have personal websites – encourage your children to visit those sites to learn more about the authors. Children enjoy reading and writing fan fiction and online reviews – have them read reviews about a book they’re considering or write a review about a book they’ve read. Introduce children to videogame magazines; books related to popular culture, movies or TV shows; and books or short stories spun off from popular videogames.
Consider children’s magazines: Magazines (such as Ranger Rick or Cricket) provide a monthly family experience with a range of fiction and nonfiction articles and illustrations. Many now include online resources and games.
Find fun writing activities: Buy or bring blank postcards with you on vacation, and encourage your children to keep in touch with family and friends. Make scrapbooks or digital storybooks with pictures, captions, and printed materials related to family outings or summer activities.