Taking the slide out of summer

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JOCELYN LAUREL

Summer is a time that all school-aged children look forward to. However, many parents overlook the importance of adding summer reading into their children’s vacation.

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The season is an important time for students to keep reading and improve their language skills. Studies show that children who haven’t been reading regularly during the their vacation are in danger of what is called a “summer slide,” or a decline in their reading ability. Regardless of their achievement levels, all kids should be provided with as many reading experiences as possible.

Moreover, many studies also show that when children don’t make reading a habit during the summertime, their reading abilities dip. This is more noticeable as they get older and advance in grade level, making them more likely to fall behind their peers.

Laurie Calvert, Director of Teacher Outreach in North Carolina, USA, likens reading to playing an instrument, “It’s like if you play an instrument but put it down for three months, you’re not going to be as good as a person who continues to play the instrument over those three months.”

In an academic thesis she wrote on improving summer reading programs, Professor Calvert proposes that to avoid a “summer slide,” children should be as engaged as possible in whatever they choose to read.

“Anything that keeps students reading works,” Calvert said. “The more engaged they are in the text, the closer they’re going to read it. The closer they read it, the more they comprehend. And that process grows their skill.”

Here are tips from the professor:
Encourage your children to read books they enjoy for at least 30 minutes per day. Your child will likely be more engrossed in material they choose themselves than those forced on them.

Provide incentives for reluctant readers. For example, if your child enjoys basketball, agree to allow them to play if they do their “daily reading.”

Make reading a social act. Establish a time during the day when all members of the family gather and read on their own, or take turns reading the same book aloud.

Connect your reading to family outings. If you take your kids to an aquarium, consider reading a book about fish or the ocean with them later that day. The outing can help place the reading into a broader context.

The quality of the material that students read is also extremely important because it varies so much. Here is a short list of well-loved books you may wish to get for kids ages 1 to 12:

Books for All Ages
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk Ends: the Poems and Drawing of Shel Silverstein by Shel Silverstein
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Books for Preschoolers
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Goodnight
Moon by Margaret Wise
Brown, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr.,
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Corduroy by Don Freeman
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Books for Children Ages 4 to 8
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
The Mitten by Jan Brett,
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
ChickaChicka Boom Boom by John Archambault
The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura JoffeNumeroff
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
Math Curse by Jon Scieszka
Are You My Mother? by Philip D. Eastman
The Napping House by Audrey Wood
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
Curious George by Hans Augusto Rey
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
Arthur series by Marc Tolon Brown
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
The Art Lesson by Tomie De Paola
Caps for Sale by EsphyrSlobodkina
Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch

Books for Children Ages 9 to 12
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Bridge to Terabithia by Kathe­rine Paterson
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
The BFG by Roald Dahl
The Giver by Lois Lowry James
Giant Peach: A Children’s Story by Roald Dahl
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Happy reading!

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