Monday, April 19, 2010

Summer reading idea

National Library Week was last week and I hope many of you made it to your local library with your kids to take advantage of the wonderful things they offer. We did, and both the boys and I came home with some good books to read.

We love the library. Logan really enjoys selecting new books to read every week or so. The funny thing is, he has a lot of books on his shelf here at home that we have never read! When he chooses a bedtime story, there seems to be a rotation of favorites and the others sit there and collect dust.

A friend and I were discussing that recently, and she was lamenting the fact that her son and daughter had this great collection of books they had never cracked open. I realized the same thing, and came up with an idea: A summer reading program, much like the one the library does each year, but instead, the goal would be to make it through the entire bookshelf at home. That includes the big treasuries that contain many stories in one book, and the ones that he is on the verge of outgrowing and passing on to his little brother. Old favorites and new tales that are just waiting to be discovered.

I haven’t discussed the idea with Logan yet because the school year hasn’t ended, but I am hoping he’ll be on board for it. I don’t know what kinds of “rewards” I will offer, but I’m thinking the first goal for books read (perhaps the top shelf?) will nab him the bookmark of his choice at the local book shop (they have lots of really cool ones), and then maybe once he finishes reading each shelf, he will get to choose another book. I’m thinking the last prize will be going to the store to get him a brand-new backpack to use when he starts school in the fall, and probably a couple new books to go in it as well — maybe some books about kindergarten.

My friend thought the idea sounded good for her kids, too.

Of course, the best prize of all — though this kids won’t realize it — is just encouraging them to read, whether it’s on their own or together with their parents.

Right now, both my boys love their books. They don’t view reading as a “have to.” Rather, to them it’s a “get to.” I love the fact that they each take it upon themselves to sit down with a book several times a day. I get all kinds of warm fuzzies when one of them brings me a book and asks me to read it. Just the other night, Jordan, who isn’t saying more than a couple words, brought me his favorite book, Eric Carle’s “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” He climbed up into my lap and handed me the book, saying “Ba Ba,” which translates to “Brown Bear.”

I melted. Then I read it to him, three times in a row. Then I let him “read” it to me. He basically just turned the pages, babbled and pointed out the animals like I do when I read it to him.

Don’t let summer vacation turn into a book-free period for your children. The more you encourage them to read, the better their chances of wanting to do it on their own. Let them see you reading. Check out books from the library that correlate with an activity you just did or are planning to do, or an upcoming holiday.

Or, like us, try a summer reading program with the books you have at home, or make arrangements to trade books with one of your child's friends and read through their bookshelf. Chances are their friend will have plenty of age-appropriate books your child doesn't own.

You have absolutely nothing to lose and so much to gain!