The school year will be over in the blink of an eye. My boys and I can’t wait for summer fun: lazy mornings, afternoons at the beach, hikes in the woods, camps, video games, vacations, movies, books.
Yes, books. Books are definitely on the list. That’s a good thing because reading prevents the dreaded summer slide. Research shows that by reading at least 4-6 books over the summer, kids can maintain or improve their reading level.
So how can I make sure that my boys read enough this summer?
The secret is to count. Count books. Count pages. Count minutes spent reading. It doesn’t matter.
In the business world, they say: “You get what you measure.” I know from experience that this adage applies to kids’ reading too.
Part of Larrabee’s weekly homework in 1st grade was to read for ten minutes a day. Reading is important to me, and Larrabee likes to read. And yet, during those busy fall months, I doubt if he practiced his reading at home more than three times a week. Then, a few months ago, Larrabee started bringing home a reading log in his weekly homework packet. Since then, he’s barely missed a day.
The simple act of filling in a bar graph reminds him (and me) to make reading a daily priority. It prompts him to fill those empty minutes in his day—such as riding in the car or waiting for dinner to be ready—with good books. In fact, Larrabee credits the reading log with getting him into a bunch of great new series (including Kate McMullan’s Myth-O-Mania books, Jim Benton’s Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist books, and Mo O’Hara’s My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish books). I’ve seen the same type of assignment work for Blaine in the 2nd and 5th grades.
So, as soon as the school year ends, my boys will sign up for the summer reading contests at the Santa Cruz Public Library and at Bookshop Santa Cruz. And if they complete both contests before the summer is over, I’ll create a new challenge for them.