July 15, 2018 — By Wendy Sachs
Summer time is time for playgrounds and beaches – but what about reading? Summer reading and leisure trips to the library. Local libraries have summer reading programs for free- even if your little ones are too young to do the reading themselves. And if you can’t get to the library? Try reading programs at Barnes and Noble, Chuck E Cheese or the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.
Now to choose the right books! Obviously you want to let kids gravitate towards their own interests. There is a reason the transportation shelf at the library is so popular with the three year olds! But also find ways to connect their interests with other topics. Have a kid that loves fairies? Find a book about a fairy garden, then add a book about gardening to your stack.
Consider helping kids choose one book for pleasure, one book to learn something, one book to read themselves (if they can) and one book that someone will read to them.
If you have a reader, choose books that they can decode the words on the page. There is a “five finger rule” that says 0-1 unknown words on a page and the book is too easy, 2-3 unknown words and the book is just right, but 4-5 unknown words and the book is too difficult.
Many preschoolers enjoy hearing chapter books read aloud. Summer is the perfect time to read a chapter a day and it will help these pre-readers to follow plot, get introduced to new and complex words and see you enjoying books along with them. Reading aloud to children also has proven to increase attention span.
Why do children want to read the same book repeatedly? Well, it increases their vocabulary as it may take many times of hearing the words to understand and truly learn them. Also, there is a pattern and rhythm to books and reading them over and over helps children understand them. It increases their comprehension as they consider the levels of meaning in even the simplest books. You can help with these skills by asking questions about characters and outcomes. Try reading the book and leaving words off and having your little one fill in the blanks- very fun with rhyming books.
There are loads and loads of blogs, websites and apps that will suggest books but often the best resources are the librarians and booksellers who work with the books everyday. Asking the librarian for a suggestion will teach kids about asking for help and also help them find new titles that they will enjoy.