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Slow the Summer Brain Drain
It happens. Between Little League and swimming lessons, kids tend to forget some of what they learned the previous school year. Research proves that children who don't read during the summer can lose up to three months of reading progress. Fight back with these fun and easy tips.
Get books into their hands. You can do it without spending a dime by borrowing books from your library. If you live a little further away from a library, you may be able to take advantage of Books by Snail, a summer program which loans books out by mail to K-8 graders attending Auxvasse, Callaway Hills, Hallsville, Harrisburg, Hatton-McCredie, Mokane, New Bloomfield, North Elementary, Sturgeon and Williamsburg schools. “This convenient service delivers high-interest books and activities directly to your mailbox to keep kids engaged and connected to reading,” says Brandy Sanchez, librarian in charge of Books by Snail. A grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services covers the cost of mailing the books back and forth.
For reluctant readers or children with learning disabilities, listening to books may be the ticket. You can check out children's audiobooks on CD or MP3 Playaway format at your library or visit www.dbrl.org to access Tumblebooks or download audiobooks for your e-reader.
Encourage them to read what interests them, and it doesn’t have to be a story book. If children are learning to cook then they’re reading instructions and learning about fractions. If they’re Batman comics fans, they’re reading dialogue and appreciating narrative through the drawings. If they like watching DVDs, turn on the closed captioning and turn down the volume, so children see the words being spoken on screen. Even reading the back of a cereal box counts.
Give kids reading incentives. If your children need encouragement, reward them for reading for a set amount of time or a certain number of pages. Let them invite a friend over, stay up an extra 30 minutes one night or another reward that motivates your kids. The library’s Summer Reading program comes with incentives built-in. Kids up to age 5 receive a free book and ages 5-18 get a free reading light for completing the program.
Read together. “One thing to keep in mind is that it is important to continue to read aloud with your children even after they have learned to read. This allows you to share titles and topics they are interested in that are written at a higher level. This entices them to read even more and allows them to share interests with you,” advises Sarah Howard, Children and Youth Services Manager. Whether you’re reading from the same title or each enjoying your own book, children learn the value and importance of reading when they see you reading, too.
Getting kids in the habit of reading for as little as 20 minutes a day can help maintain the reading skills they learned in school. Summer Reading can help achieve this goal. “Summer Reading library programs introduce kids to a variety of topics that we hope will excite them enough to keep them reading over the summer,” says Jerilyn Hahn, children’s librarian at the Callaway County Public Library. Research also shows that kids read more when they have access to more books, and those who read more also write and spell better and have larger vocabularies.