We think it goes without saying, but summer reading is ridiculously important for so many reasons. Kids should be reading EVERY DAY. Since we still run into people who seem to think it’s not a big deal if their kids don’t read (after all, isn’t summer supposed to be a break from school?), we thought we should give a few reasons why it’s paramount:
- When they read, they’re using their imaginations. With no pictures or screens doing it for them, their brains are creating images of things, strengthening parts of the of the brain. Just like muscles, if certain parts of the brain aren’t exercised, then they will cease to function properly. Even kids who claim that they don’t like to read will “learn” to enjoy it. We promise.
- Quiet. Our kids need to just be quiet and allow their brains to focus on one thing. And that thing certainly doesn’t need to (read: shouldn’t) have lights or noise or moving parts. And let’s be honest: we as adults crave the quiet time too. You could even choose a time when the whole house “shuts down” to read together.
- Reading keeps the brain actively “learning” over the break from school.
- Reading takes them to times and places they’d never be able to experience otherwise.
- This is the opportunity for your child to read whatever they want (to an extent; see this post). Try not to hound your child about reading certain things. Read age-appropriate books, but vary the selections. Allow them to read mindless stuff a few times. Let them read comic books every so often. It’s even okay to let them read short books with pictures (when they’re in elementary school) that they can finish in one sitting. Just make sure there are some challenging reads in there as well. Allow them to choose the topics of the more challenging books.
- You can allow them to read portions of books without finishing (you’re a hero!). For example, Paige’s sons are obsessed with dinosaurs, and on a recent trip to the library, they couldn’t find any books in the juvenile section that weren’t picture books. The librarian took them to the adult section, and both boys (7 and 8) came home with with adult non-fiction books. Because they weren’t chapter books, the boys read portions of the book that they found interesting. They didn’t read the entire thing (that would take a special kind of nerdy kid ;)), but they were reading and learning all the same.
- They will learn things that they (and you) don’t even realize they don’t know.
- If they read books that teach them how to do something, they will learn new skills.
- If you read along with them, it promotes discussions. And instead of asking them what they read, ask them how they feel about it.
- Reading improves vocabulary. It just does. It also improves many other skills in English because kids can see words and punctuation and grammar and so many other things written out.
- They will be able to have more intelligent conversations with people.
- Reading improves critical thinking skills. If the story is well-written, without even realizing it they will begin putting themselves in the positions of the characters and analyzing their behaviors. They will start asking “why” and “what if…”. And then they will begin answering those questions.
- Reading improves reading. (Try to argue with that one!)
The bottom line is reading is fundamental to learning in every subject in school, but it’s also fundamental to so many other things in life. Do your kid (and yourself) a favor, and encourage them to read. Stop seeing reading as a chore or as work, and start presenting it as a privilege and something that is fun and relaxing.
Go to your library and see what they have to offer. You can probably access their summer reading lists and your school’s reading lists online. And if all else fails, talk to your librarian. Librarians are a wealth of knowledge, and they may even be able to introduce your kids to some new books they will love.