Make Reading Fun This Summer

reading Today’s post is by Sarah Fudin who works in community relations for the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education’s online master’s programs. USC Rossier Online provides current and aspiring teachers the opportunity to earn an Online Masters in Education and become a teacher.  Outside of work Sarah enjoys running, reading and Pinkberry frozen yogurt. You can reach Sarah via Twitter: @USCTeacher<!/USCTeacher>

Reading is one of the most central aspects of your child’s educational development, especially during his or her early years.

Children from three to seven are curious about the world, eager to learn and excited about new discoveries. It is during these years that parents can instill a love for reading in children that will last a lifetime. It is the desire to learn through books and expand upon what they learn in the classroom, motivating learning from school through college, career and even adulthood.

While many children have a natural curiosity, they do not always take an interest in books. Some children may not like to read; they can be daunted by its technical aspects, the newness of words or an assumed monotony of sitting still with a book.

Children need to be stimulated, and you should look for ways to create an interactive reading experience.

This is especially important during the summer months, when children are not in school but should continue practicing the skills they’ve learned while building their foundation of knowledge. To help your children stay engaged with their books, stories and text, try some of these activities in connection with their summer reading list:

Take a Trip
You don’t need a teacher to plan a field trip. During the summer, taking your child on educational excursions can be a fun and creative way to get them excited about reading. With children’s books, it is easy to plan a trip centered on themes found in the narrative. If they are reading a book about animals, take them to the zoo to see these animals face to face. If you are reading a book about the solar system, take them to the planetarium. So many educational books deal with things that are ideally suited for fun trips to museums, national landmarks, aquariums, botanical gardens, national parks and natural attractions, that the opportunities are endless.

Create a Project
Children love arts and crafts, and encouraging creativity is an excellent way to stimulate your child’s interest in reading. Regardless of what your child is reading, you can create a project that ties the book with an artistic project. You can help your children build a model solar system or have them draw pictures of their favorite characters. Write a brief script for a puppet show that enacts a scene from a book, and have your child create the puppets and act out the scene. Science books often also provide at-home science experiments that are fun and educational.

Start a Book Club
Book Clubs might not be the first thing you think of when getting your three to seven year-olds excited about reading, but involving their friends is an excellent way to not only keep them interested, but to reinforce this interest through teamwork and group activities. You and other parents can coordinate play dates for your children to come together and read with one another, work on book-themed projects and even go on trips. Over the summer months, children don’t have daily interaction with their friends as they would during the school year, so this becomes a fun and educational way to keep your child socializing and learning.

Make Reading Rewarding
Rewarding children for reading is not about coaxing them into reading as much as it is about making them feel proud of their accomplishments. For young children, just finishing an entire book is a big deal! Reading is a skill that they should feel proud of, and one way to make them excited about it is to reward them. If your child is at the point where he or she can read an entire book without your help then make it a celebration. Take your child out for a special day trip or a treat of ice cream. Even simple verbal encouragement, like saying how proud you are, can go a long way.

Tie It in with Television
Incorporating television into reading is a strange idea, but it’s actually an innovative way to encourage your children to read. So many children’s television shows have books that tie into them, and you can tell if your child is going to like a series of book by seeing how he or she reacts to the television programs. If he or she likes The Magic School Bus or Dora the Explorer, then you can encourage him or her to read the books. When children are already familiar with the material, they’ll be excited to explore new aspects of their favorite characters or stories. You can also encourage them to watch a new show to see if they’d be interested in reading the books.


Books from Your Childhood Your Kids Should Be Reading

The following guest post is from Heather Smith, a former nanny. Passionate about thought, leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to hire a nanny by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at]

The truly defining characteristic of a classic book is bookshow well it stands the test of time. Over the years there will be hundreds of thousands of children’s books written that will be read, loved, and then forgotten in lieu of the next hit book.

It takes a truly great book whose message spans the ages to be passed on from generation to generation, all because people fall in love with everything about it. These five books are books have withstood this test and deserve a place on your children’s book shelves:

Where the Wild Things Are

Children have loved this book since it first debuted in 1963, and continue to love it today. While it appeals to the younger generation because of its magical references and mythical monsters that jump across the pages, it also has an inherently deeper message as it explores the depth of anger and a young boy’s reaction to it. It’s a book that has transcended the years because of its universal message, and will hopefully continue to intrigue younger audiences as the years pass.

The Story of Ferdinand

When it first hit the shelves in 1936 this book was viewed as quite the controversy because people thought it was a pacifist book. However the underlying message that it sends is one that applies in every decade despite what social or political controversy is plaguing us. The storyline follows a young bull who is more interested in flowers than bull-fighting, no matter how hard others try to make him conform. It’s a good reminder that everyone is different, and our individuality should be celebrated not moderated

 Where the Sidewalk Ends

A bit different than the traditional stories, Where the Sidewalk Ends is a collection of poetry that was written in 1974. The poems tackle deep-seated childhood issues in addition to being purely fanciful, giving a nice mix of sage advice and fluffy nonsense. In addition, entertaining cartoon drawings accompany the poetry, making it a fun picture book for children to flip through

The Little Prince

Originally written in French as Le Petit Prince, this book has become one of the most popular books ever written.

Much like the other books on this list, while the storyline appeals to the younger generations it also drives home a message towards much deeper issues about all aspects of life. The book follows an adventure between a young boy and a young prince, and is an enthralling read for people of all ages.

 Alice in Wonderland

This story has been adapted so many times in so many different ways that reading the original is a must. Written in 1865, it depicts a young girl’s adventures in Wonderland after she falls down the rabbit hole. There have been many interpretations of the overall message of the book, but one thing is certain: it’s a wonderful book that will have everyone entertained.

Only a handful of books can make the jump from generation to generation, and these books have solidly done so. Each sends a unique and powerful message, and just as many of us loved these stories growing up, so will our kids, and likely their kids as well.


Why is Learning to Read Difficult for Some Children?

Yesterday’s “Can Do” Street kids blog introduces the idea that some children may have difficulties with reading and that there is nothing wrong with getting extra help.

The blog post plants the seed that needing help with reading is nothing to be ashamed of..that we all need help in one thing or another during our lives.

For many children developing reading skills  is a natural process. For other children,  reading is a continuous struggle. According to the National Institutes of Health, one out of every ten children has significant problems with reading skills.

An article on, states that:

  • Children may struggle with reading for a variety of reasons. Good readers are phonemically aware, understand the alphabetic principle, apply these skills in a rapid and fluent manner, possess strong vocabularies and syntactical and grammatical skills, and relate reading to their own experiences.
  • Learning to read begins far before children enter formal schooling. Children who have stimulating literacy experiences from birth onward have an edge in vocabulary development, in understanding the goals of reading, and in developing an awareness of print and literacy concepts.
  • reading Children who are most at risk for reading failure enter kindergarten and the elementary grades without these early experiences. Frequently, many poor readers have not consistently engaged in the language play that develops an awareness of sound structure and language patterns. They have limited exposure to bedtime and lap time reading.

  • Children raised in poverty, those with limited proficiency in English, those from homes where the parents’ reading levels and practices are low, and those with speech, language, and hearing disabilities are at increased risk of reading failure.

The article goes on to say that:

  • Many children with robust oral language experience, average to above average intelligence, and frequent early interactions with literacy activities also have difficulties learning to read. Why?
  • Programmatic longitudinal research, including research supported by  the national Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD), clearly indicates that deficits in the development of phoneme awareness skills not only predict difficulties learning to read, but they also have a negative effect on reading acquisition. Whereas phoneme awareness is necessary for adequate reading development, it is not sufficient. Children must also develop phonics concepts and apply these skills fluently in text.
  •  Substantial research supports the importance of phoneme awareness, phonics, and the development of speed and automaticity in reading. Unfortunately, we know less about how children develop reading comprehension strategies and semantic and syntactic knowledge. Given that some children with well developed decoding and word- recognition abilities have difficulties understanding what they read, more research in reading comprehension is crucial.
  • Reading is a language-based activity. Reading does not develop naturally, and for many children, specific decoding, word recognition, and reading comprehension skills must be taught directly and systematically.
  •  Preschool children benefit significantly from being read to.
  • Research evidence suggests that educators can foster reading development by providing kindergarten children with instruction that develops print concepts, familiarity with the purposes of reading and writing, age-appropriate vocabulary and language comprehension skills, and familiarity with the language structure.
  • Research evidence shows that many children in the 1st and 2nd grades and beyond will require explicit instruction to develop the necessary phoneme awareness, phonics, spelling, and reading comprehension skills. But for these children, this will not be sufficient.
  • For youngsters having learning difficulties with reading, each of these foundational skills should be taught and integrated into textual reading formats to ensure sufficient levels of fluency, automaticity, and understanding.


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