5 Ways to Encourage Summer Literacy

summer scene with slide

Help Prevent Summer Reading Slide with These Fun-filled Activities

Children who don’t read and write during the summer months are at risk of declining academic skills.  This is known as the ‘Summer Slide’. These students begin the following school year several months behind their peers who do read.  Unfortunately, for each summer vacation during which children do not read, the decline is cumulative.  The good news is there are a variety of ways to help children become engaged in summer literacy.

1. Listen to Audio Books

Heading out for a long road trip this summer?  Be sure to load up on a variety of audio books that the whole family can enjoy (even the driver)!  Audio books are more powerful than those fancy drop down DVD players.  They help strengthen a variety of critical reading skills such as visualization, exposure to literary language, and vocabulary.  And, audio books can help listeners build stamina and attention.

Another beautiful thing about the family listening to an audio book together is the bond that is created.  Together you can laugh, cry, or shiver while enjoying the same story.

When children observe their parents valuing literature, they are more likely to see value in it too.  Our actions send a very powerful message to kids.

Here’s a link to a fantastic resource for children’s literature on audio.  This is a paid resource, but if you prefer free, and who doesn’t, the overdrive app works in conjunction with your library card.

2. Extend Bedtime for Reading 

For the kids in our lives this work EVERY time.  Summer vacation comes with the luxury of sleeping in.  This means that bedtimes can be extended without worry of fallout the next morning.  You can structure this extended bedtime in whatever way works best for your family.  Some parents like to put a time limit on it.  “If you get in bed by 8:00, you can stay up until 8:30 as long as you read.”  Others are a bit more loosey-goosey when extending bedtime.  These parents let their children stay up as long as they want provided they read the entire time.  This might work better for older readers.

Still on a schedule during the summer?  Do what works best for you.  Make Friday or Saturday night the late reading night.

Whatever you choose, extending bedtime to allow for reading helps build that all-important stamina.  The only way to build stamina is to build stamina.

3. Visit Your Local Library Regularly

Your local library offers a variety of experiences throughout the summer – read alouds, book clubs, hands on activities, not to mention access to ALL. THOSE. FREE. BOOKS!

4. Start the Summer With a New Journal

The wonderful thing about personal notebooks is just that, they are personal.  No one is critiquing your child’s writing.  Lots of journals provide writing prompts so if your child is stuck for a topic, he or she can flip through the book and select a subject that tickles his/her fancy.

Here are some examples of interesting journals.

Journal For Girls-101 Thought Provoking Questions

Dude Diary

The Book of Me

Diary of a Witty Kid

 

5. Tell Ghost Stories 

This delightfully creepy activity helps children develop visualization and listening skills.  I’ll never forget telling my granddaughters”The Golden Arm” one summer evening.  The stars sparkled as we  huddled near the fire pit.  The fire crackled and the night insects sang.  I had just reached the climax of the story when suddenly a coyote howled.  I couldn’t have timed it better!  I knew my granddaughters had been using their imaginations because as soon as the coyote howled they both jumped a foot.  We all laughed at the chills that ran down our backs!  I’m sure my granddaughters won’t forget that experience either.

Don’t know any ghost stories for kids?  Here are two suggestions to get you started.

Terrifying Tales by David Kobb & Shawn Kobb

In a Dark, Dark, Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz

Summer can also be the perfect time for teachers to engage in summer literacy!  Be sure to check out our post on 3 summer must-reads for teachers of reading!  Happy Summer!

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