We love to doing and practicing the things that we love. It is that simple. The path to lifelong readership starts by figuring out who you are as a reader. Make this summer rich with reading experiences and memories by centering reading around your child's interests, wonderings and passions. Here are five ways to transform summer reading by focusing on your child's reading identity.
1. Start with what makes your child light up with excitement.
Pay attention to the books your child talks about and wants to read again and again. Do they have rich illustrations? Are they written poetically? Are they about a certain subject? Are they part of a series? Use this information to find similar books. Ask your child's teacher, or your local librarian or book store for recommendations based on the books that have resonated with your child. If you are on Twitter, you can also tweet questions to teacher-librarians who love to answer book related queries. Try @MrSchuReads or @ShannonMMiller.
In addition to honoring books your child has cherished in the past, make summer about exploration. Ask your child to write a list called "The Top 5 Things I Want to Know More About Right Now." Use this list to find interesting fiction and non-fiction books, articles and blog posts to satisfy these natural curiosities.
2. Share the love.
Put your child in the "expert's" seat by sharing out mini reviews of the books he couldn't put down this summer. It's fun to recommend books to others and to feel like part of a reading community. If a family member, friend or another child in the world does read the book, make sure you facilitate a discussion about the book afterwards so you child can practice talking about text. Questions like "who was your favorite character?" Or "what was the most exciting part of the book?" are great jumping off points. As you child sees the joy that others get out of his recommendations, he will continue to curate more suggestions and to seek out recommendations from fellow readers.
There are some great online forums for review writing and book sharing. Try Biblionasium and Goodreads, and of course make sure you child is registered for the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge so that he can log reading minutes and share his reading progress with his "audience!"
3. Make new friends, but keep the old.
Build lasting, visceral summer reading memories by re-reading old favorites again and again. Often parents fear that a gravitation towards well tread books means their child is failing to branch out. Actually, re-reading is a great way to practice close reading. Each time your child reads the text they will uncover new nuances and descriptions that they may not have noticed the first time. It is a great way to build fluency and stamina and confidence as a reader. Be part of the re-reading by honoring the attachment your child feels to a particular book. Make it the center of a family tradition. Each summer your child will look forward to her summer reading because of the loving memories you have created together.
4. Be a genuine reading role model.
So much of the reading we do can be invisible to a child. Make it a point to share what you are reading with your child. From a daily blog to an article about your local baseball team, share what you learn from the text you read, and share what you love about your reading habits. At the same time, be honest about what you are reading, don't just focus on the "classics" and don't only focus on positive reading experiences. It is very powerful for your child to understand that it's okay not to like everything they read, that even you do not enjoy every book you pick up. Give them the authority to stop reading a book part way through if they truly don't like it. It's much better for your child to build positive reading experiences rather than struggling through a text that doesn't resonate with him for the sake of reading cover to cover. Explain that as readers have full control of what we read and how we read it. We may read start to finish, or we may read only certain chapter, anything goes!
5. Bring books to life.
Extend good reading experiences by taking reading inspired field trips together, or creating projects based on favorite books. Has your daughter just finished Harriet the Spy? Make a tomato sandwich picnic and have spy lunch at a park. Bring blank journals to decorate and people-watch to inspire a first "spy" entry. Project-based learning also pairs well with non-fiction text. Go back to your child's list of curiosities and use these subjects to think of ways to pair reading with hands-on learning. If cooking is on the list, take out a great recipe book and make your child head chef for a day. If a certain profession is on the list, in addition to taking out books from the library, call friends or family members to see if they know someone that your child could interview or job shadow for a morning.
Enjoy making warm summer reading memories and check the LitWorld blog often this summer for ongoing reading and writing tips.