The Importance of Joining a Summer Reading Program

summer reading
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Schools out and almost every parent in America is over the moon happy about it. This school year for scholars, parents, and teachers was a rough one and now everyone is happy to unplug their devices, throw their textbooks in a closet and take a much-needed brain break. 

I get it.

Believe me teaching during a pandemic -virtual and in-person scholars was a mental and physical workout. But it is important that while we relax and take a break from the everyday to-dos of education, we keep the kids active physically and mentally by reading. 

A great way to take the guesswork out of the reading part is by joining a summer reading program.

summer reading
Image source: Unsplash

What are the qualities of an effective reading program?

An effective summer reading program has structure and is designed for a variety of ages. Effective reading programs are engaging and interactive. They offer opportunities for the readers to respond to stories, analyze the characters and the authors of the books they encounter.  An effective summer reading program encourages readers to form opinions, learn about other cultures and types of communities, and to make connections from their own experiences. 

Who should participate in a reading program?

All ages can and should participate in a summer reading program. Reading is essential. It is a healthy hobby. In fact, research shows that executive functions develop in infancy and involve really important processes such as cognitive flexibility, attention span, working memory, and other critical processes. This simply means that executive function aids in a person’s ability to develop academic skills. One like reading. Thus, we should start reading to children as early as in the womb.

Prereading skills:

Ages 0 to 3 can participate by attending weekly storytime events at the local book store or library. Parents or reading age siblings can read aloud to them various board and picture books, pointing out pictures, and putting emphasis on words( sounds). Also, give them the books and let them touch, drool, and mimic you.

Word Reading:

Ages 4-6 can participate by self-selecting books to be read to and with them. They can and should be given sight words and as they learn and recite them begin to identify them in books thus making the connection to the words we see, say, write and read. Offer variety. And definitely let them read the book that you have read to them a hundred times. 

Reading Comprehension:

Ages 7-12 can participate by building fluency, stamina, and comprehension skills. Developing a healthy appetite for reading and different genres, self-selecting books, novel studies with friends, family, a book group or school program are all ways to immerse your scholar into a rich reading environment.

Why is a summer reading program important?

The power of choosing a book for yourself and reading it whenever and wherever you want is big for a kid that is used to having to read teacher-selected books for nine to ten months for the sole purpose of learning a new skill. 

Picking a variety of books will allow them to start developing their favorite genres, authors,

Costs Associated with Summer Reading Programs

Local summer reading programs should be free to participate in. The only cost might be the purchase price of the books in the program. But from experience, the kids typically get the books for free, or books can be borrowed from the library.

If you are creating your own program, then of course the costs of the book would come out of pocket, but you’d be building a beautiful home library. 

**I thought it important to mention that field trips aren’t unheard of if your child is in a summer camp that has a reading program. So account for field trip costs to farms, aquariums, and other outings.

A Parent’s Role in a Summer Reading Program

As a parent, your role is quite simple. Read with your child daily and discuss with them the importance of literacy. Ask them about the books they are reading or have read. Join the program and read along with them( a book of your choice of course). Remember consistency is required.

Where to Find Summer Reading Programs and Where are they Held?

Start with your child’s teacher.

Look into a district-wide summer reading initiative. Most school districts offer incentives the following school year

Check with your local library. They will definitely have a summer program. Get sign up.

While it is not out of the question, there may not always be a physical location. Reading programs are done on your own at the pace of your child’s reading abilities. Children get a book list or a selection of books that encourages them to read and log their minutes. Families turn the logs back in at the end of the summer or by the deadline. With everything being online, it may also be an option to keep a log online. 

Some summer reading programs do have weekly meeting options for kids to get together to share their thoughts about the books and to do hands-on extension activities. It depends on your community resources. So if this is a component that interests you, make sure to be specific when asking questions of your district, library or 

Summer Reading Programs in DFW, TX

Dallas: Smart Summer with Mayor Johnson

Cedar Hill: Reading Colors your World Summer Reading Challenge

Carrollton: Summer Reading Program

Arlington: Discover Your Story Summer Reading Challenge

Desoto: Readsquared

If none of these work for you, create your own. It’s as simple as choosing a few books from a few different genres with your child(ren), setting a schedule and time to read, and an accountability and incentive system. Try a sticker for every 30 minutes read. Once your child earns 6 stickers, they get a predetermined reward or surprise summer. Be creative, have fun with it. Make memories.

Happy Reading and Happiest Juneteenth!!!

Teacher, T.