School ends, summer vacation begins and suddenly kids are free to play, be outside, go to the pool or do other fun things. Here at the library our favorite season is just beginning. That means we are gearing up for Extravaganza and the start of Summer Reading.
Extravaganza is our city-wide festival to celebrate the start of Summer Reading! Sunday, June 11th at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main location from 12:00-5:00 PM, we will celebrate the start of Summer Reading for the whole family with music, crafts, games, storytelling and fun.
Summer is also known for the “summer slide”, not a fun piece of playground equipment, but the time when children forget part of what they have learned during the school year. The old saying, “use it or lose it” is substantially true when it comes to children’s reading skills. Children need to read over the summer months in order to keep or maintain their reading skills.
Here are a five tips to help children keep up their reading skills over the summer:
- Set aside a specific time each day for kids to read. Maybe it is the first thing they do in the morning or a special time right before bed. It could be a quiet time in the afternoon when it gets really hot outside and children need some time to relax, drink lemonade and be still for a few minutes. The recommendation is that children spend at least 30 minutes reading or being read to a day, not necessarily all at once.
- Read something out loud to your children. It is important to read to children from the moment they are born, but sometimes we may forget to continue to read to our children as they get older. They learn to read for themselves so it feels like they don’t need to be read to, but reading out loud is still very important. It helps to model what good reading sounds like. It also is a way to show children what reading fluency sounds like, with emotional inflection or variance in speed and tone. The best thing about reading out loud is that it is a special bonding time with your children. Sometimes you may read something in a book that is important to talk about or explain. Gather all your kids together and read to them.
- Have children read out loud to someone else. Children can only develop reading fluency by reading out loud. They can read to a younger sibling, parent or grandparent. Reading out loud is a very different skill than reading silently. Children need to read silently and out loud to maintain and improve their reading skills.
- Let children read whatever they are interested in. The power of free choice is amazing. Kids can read magazines, books about super heroes or Lego books, and it is all good for their reading. It is good for kids to read a book more than once or even to read books that follow a predictable pattern. This builds reading confidence. It is also very important that children read at their reading level. If a book is too hard, they will quickly get frustrated and lose interest. My general rule of thumb is to have them read one or two pages and they should already know all but two or three words. If there are more than three words they don’t know, the book is not quite right for them.
- Join a Summer Reading program at your local library. Of course there are lots of different Summer Reading programs out there, and I would encourage families to do as many as you can. The library often provides a great Summer Reading program that may include books, as well as other types of learning opportunities.
Most libraries around the county participate in some sort of Summer Reading program to encourage children (teens and adults too!) to read over the summer. The best part is that when they read, they can earn or win prizes and other incentives. Any child can participate in Kids Summer Reading at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. They don’t have to have a library card, they don’t have to live in the city of Pittsburgh and they could even be kids that are visiting their grandparents for the summer.
You can sign up for Summer Reading at any Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh location or online. Kids will get a Summer Reading folder with book log and free tote bag for signing up. When they read books, they can log them on their book log or on the online book log. Then come back to the library to find out about prizes earned or other summer incentives.
Challenge your children to read this summer and don’t forget that it is important for them to see grown-ups reading too. Create your own family reading challenge or let children earn fun activities or adventures based on their reading success.
We hope you will join the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh as we challenge the city to read 180, 000 books this summer.
Jamie is a Children’s Librarian at CLP – Allegheny. She is originally from the wilds of Idaho and grew up with a small menagerie of animals. Most memorably were the cats, dogs, rabbits, sheep, horses, and one very temperamental goat. Of course, her favorite children’s stories feature animals doing rather silly things.