Summer Reading for Kids

by Rachel Baker on July 2, 2008

Its summer time and the last thing most kids want to do is sit around and read.  Did you know, though, that summer reading programs were originally started in the 1890s to encourage children to develop a habit of reading on a regular basis?  According to the American Library Association, numerous studies have shown that summer reading programs help ensure a retention of reading and learning skills over the summer break.

But how do you get your kids to want to read?

The American Library Association suggests these practices to help encourage your child’s reading:

  • Make a time and a place for reading in your home and encourage talking about reading in your family.
  • Take advantage of “waiting” time to share books: on trips, at the doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store.
  • Set a good example – read on your own.
  • Allow your child to select books to read and be aware of your child’s reading interests.
  • Give books as presents.
  • Register your child for a library card.
  • When preparing for family road trips, stock up on audio books from your library. Let your children choose some stories to listen to in the car. Have family members share favorite ghost stories and/or adventure stories around the campfire at picnics and on camping trips.

My favorite of these is letting your child select their own books to read. It doesn’t matter if your ten year old picks a comic book or Barren’s Guide to Mutual Funds.  It doesn’t matter!  And don’t let it matter.  Your child just picked out a book on his/her own. Either they will read it or they won’t.  Either they will understand it or they won’t.  The point is they found a book that interested them at that moment.  Barren’s Guide to Mutual Funds may be the one book that triggers your child’s interest in reading.

When you buy a book for your child think about the movies they like – the ones that capture their attention.  Are they more Sci-Fi or Comedy?  Is your child interested more in magical creatures or social situations between kids?  Seriously, know your child’s movie interests – this will help you pick out a book with a cast of characters that will actually interest him/her.

Leave books that you liked as a kid lying around.  Don’t force them to read them, just leave them in a place they can access it easily.  Eventually, kids get bored and will pick one or two of them up over the summer.

Here are a few of the children’s books, I’ve read over the last month or so:

and Eldest by Christopher Pauloni

These two books are part of the Inheritance Series.  There’s a few things of interest about these two books.  The author started writing Eragon when he was fifteen.  He became a NY Times bestselling author at nineteen. Wow!  See, in my humble opinion, that’s inspirational for any kid.

These books are classified as fantasy.  There are dragons and elves and dwarfs – think, Lord of the Rings for children. There are made up languages and make believe worlds to journey through as Eragon (and Saphira) learn what it means and how to be part of the elite Dragon Riders. The beauty of these books is they will appeal to children of all ages. The story of Eragon and the Dragon Riders is a coming of age story about triumphing over adversity and accomplishing tasks that seem impossible to complete.

The last book in the series, Brisingr, comes out September 20, 2008.

Are you there, God, Its Me Margaret by Judy Blume

This is a fantastic book for pre-teen girls.  AND its a great introduction to the Judy Blume legacy of books.  Are you there, God… is written in a way that will help young girls interpret and understand their own thoughts and ideas (to borrow a phrase from my friend, Lisa) about growing up.  The gist of the story is Margaret’s family has moved from the city to the suburbs, she has a new school, new friends and is trying to figure out what religion she is – all while trying to figure out what’s happening (or not happening) with her body.

I just read Are you there, God… this week.  I recommend it for moms and their daughters (separately moms, you don’t want to embarrass your daughters.).  I haven’t taken such a vivid trip down memory lane in a long time.  I giggled through the whole book. When I finished it, I admit, I wanted to run out and get all the other Judy Blume books I read twenty years ago.  I’m betting once a girl gets a taste of Judy Blume, she will want to read all of them, just as girls did when I was a pre-teen.

The Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman

This trilogy of books is about growing up.  Its about innocence vs experience.  Lyra, the main character is a spunky ten year old girl who’s destiny has been known about by many different types of beings. She has a strong willed mind and takes on all kinds of adventures. This books’ cast of characters has humans, armoured bears, witches, angels, and daemons.  There is action, adventure, love and betrayal. The Dark Materials Trilogy is an engaging set of books.

The first book in the trilogy was originally published in the UK as Northern Lights.  In America, its been published as The Golden Compass.  When I first started reading The Golden Compass, I thought then, “this is not your typical children’s book.”  That thought still holds true after completing The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.  However, I can definitely see the appeal of these books by children who have a love of reading already developed.

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