Summer Reading for Fun and Learning

With classes over for another school year, some children don’t plan to open a book throughout the summer. But B.C. teachers are encouraging parents to help their children continue to read daily during the holidays—for the joy of it and to maintain their literacy levels.

“As a teacher, a mother, and a grandmother, I have always enjoyed reading to children. And some of my fondest childhood memories are of being read to by my parents,” says Jinny Sims, president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. “Teaching our children to read well is the greatest gift we can give, one that opens their minds and imaginations.”

B.C. teachers are always researching more effective ways to help students learn to read. “We now understand much more about how children learn to read, so we have become much better at teaching a greater proportion of students to read at higher levels,” Sims said. “Today, ours is the most literate society in the history of Canada.”

Parents often wish their children would read fine literature, but kids may be more attracted to comic books or pop culture magazines. Teachers advise letting children explore their own literary tastes, and saving the challenging books for times when parents read aloud to the youngsters.

“I’d never push a child—especially one who is on holidays—to read something he or she doesn’t want to read,” says Sims. “Summer reading should be pure pleasure.”

Here are a few teachers’ tips for parents who wish to help enhance their children’s reading skills this summer:

* Whether you’re lolling about in the hammock or at the beach, set aside time daily for reading. Read to your children and encourage them to read aloud to you. When they do, be an avid listener. Set a good example by reading yourself and talking to the family about what you’ve read.
* Visit the public library often. Most libraries sponsor summer reading clubs with easy goals for pre-school and elementary students. Borrow talking books from the library before a long road trip, and the miles will fly by.
* Read the same novel as your teenagers and discuss it with them. This helps build thoughtful, insightful readers.

Is your family going on a summer trip? Try to involve your child in the planning. Unfold a road map and trace your travel route. Encourage your child to keep a journal or trip diary. Create math problems out of real-life situations. While travelling, calculate estimated times of arrival while going certain speeds.