While summer is a time to have a break from formal school learning; it's wise to keep up the practice of the essential skills, one of them being reading.
During the long, lazy days of Summer there should definitely be space to chill out and read. Whether it's under the shade of a tree, in the tent for a compulsory period of downtime, or in the evening instead of screen time; every kid should have the opportunity to read every day. Their teachers will thank you for keeping up the practice; and for those new to reading or find it hard - repetition helps hardwire the brain to know what to do. Encourage reading every day and make it appealing; set up a comfy place to read, seek out some great books, create some incentives for those who are reluctant (like a trip to the pools after a certain number of books are read etc), and allocate time every day when you also are seen to be reading. However you do it, make it happen; you won't regret it when they head back to school with an extension of imagination, vocabulary and interesting ideas to share.
James Russell, NZ author of the Dragon Brothers trilogy and Dragon Defenders novels recently wrote about engaging kids in reading and encouraging the practice regularly. Read his perspective here.
Does it matter if my child goes a few weeks (or 6) without regular reading?
I asked Briony Cosmann, reading recovery teacher from an Auckland Primary School... 'Why is it so important to continue with regular reading, even on holiday?' She had this to say:
"During school time, children are learning how to put together and effectively use the strategies of meaningful, visual and structural information. While at the same time sounding phrased and fluent. This is a lot to accomplish and, if not kept up and practised on a regular, (dare I say daily) basis, these strategies, phrasing and flows can be forgotten or compromised with a large break. Over the holidays, reading mileage is vital if a child is going to maintain all that they have learned during the term. I have seen many a child fall back significantly over the long school holidays due to a lack of reading mileage. No parent wants that. Make it fun, keep it fluent!"
Briony's top tip for encouraging daily reading in the holidays:
"My suggestion to parents would be that their kids should be getting the clear message that reading fits perfectly into holiday fun. Because parents... that’s what it should be... fun! Children should know that reading will be that special time in the day when they can snuggle down and enjoy a story together. The only responses to reading must be positive; don’t try to teach, just enjoy listening and find something positive to say about it at the end."
- Make it a natural part of the daily routine
- Make it fun
- Enjoy it and be positive
So, where do I start?
Local libraries usually have reading programme over the holidays complete with challenges, incentives and celebrations.
- Kia Maia te Whai- Dare to Explore (Auckland Libraries)
- Summer Reading Challenge (Wellington Libraries)
- Summer of STEAM Bingo reading challenge (Rotorua Libraries)
- Get Wild about Reading (Tauranga City Libraries- some spaces still available at some locations)
- Wild About Reading - Tuuperepere moo koorerongia
(Hamilton City Libraries)
- Summertime Reading Club – Kōrero pukapuka ā te wā o raumati (Christchurch City Libraries)
- Wild About Reading
(Dunedin City Libraries)
- Wild About Reading (Marlborough District Libraries)
- E.C Read'n Summer Reading (Palmerston North)
There are a huge number of libraries running reading challenges for both kids and adults. If you don't see your region here, head along to your local library anyway and see if you can sign up. If there's not one running, talk to the staff about setting up a challenge for your own family. The staff can give guidance on book recommendations and reading ages.
Otherwise here are some suggested 'must-reads' for kids...
Some family and friends' favourites....
- The Marmaduke Duck series- Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis
- Geronimo Stilton and Thea Stilton series- Elisabetta Dami
- The Gruffalo books- Julia Donaldson
- Baa, Baa, the smart sheep- Mark Sommerset
- The Little Yellow Digger series- Betty and Alan Gilderdale
- The Wonky Donkey (and other books)-Craig Smith
- Dr Seuss stories
- The day the crayons quit- Drew Daywalt
- The Dragon Brothers trilogy picture books- James Russell
- Kiwi Corkers- Great New Zealand Yarns- Chris Gurney
- Where the Wild Things Are- Maurice Sendak
- The Man whose Mother was a pirate- Margaret Mahy
- The Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate- Joy Cowley
- Captain Underpants series- Dav Pilkey
- The Dangerous Book for Boys- Conn Iggulden
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid series- Jeff Kinney
- Grandpa's Great Escape and other books- David Walliams
- Bedtime stories for Rebel Girls- Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
- 13 storey tree house series- Andy Griffiths
- Tom Gates series- Liz Pichon
- Any books by Roald Dahl
- Dog Man- Dav Pilkey
- Dork Diaries- Rachel Renee Russell
- The Dragon Brothers novels- James Russell
- The Diamond Horse and other books- Stacy Gregg
- Charlotte's Web- E.B White
- Big Nate books- Lincoln Peirce
- A Series of Unfortunate Events- Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
- Harry Potter series- J.K. Rowling
- The Wild Robot- Peter Brown
- The Rainbow Fairies- the Daisy Meadows writing group
- Wonder- RJ Palacio
- Percy Jackson books- Rick Riordan
- 39 Clues series- Rick Riordan
- Jacqueline Wilson books
- The Chronicles of Narnia- C.S Lewis
- Little House on the Prairie series- Laura Ingalls Wilder