Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Summer Reading Thoughts

I'm sharing a few thoughts on summer reading today. As a former teacher, and, now, parent and author, I have a few ideas that may help the young readers in your life enjoy a summer full of wonderful reading.

As a former teacher, I'd like to remind parents how important it is to encourage summer reading. I know we teachers are constantly shouting, "Read, read, read over the summer!!" But it's true. I taught second grade for several years, and the second grade reading level begins on an 18 and ends on a 28 (at least it did a few years ago). So, that meant that the first grade teachers worked very hard to help their first graders end on an 18 to be ready for the following year. However, students that did zero reading over the summer would actually regress, usually to a 16. This happens because without regular reading, their fluency falls, and when their fluency falls, they read slower. When they read slower, by the end of the story, they can't remember what the story was about. So, back to the new second-grader. This student begins the year at a 16, and although this is just one level below where they should start, the student spends the next year just a little behind all year. This can be super frustrating for the student. Kids are smart. They know when their friends' books are getting thicker and thicker and with fewer pictures, and they know when the books they read aren't. They hear their friends read (even in smaller groups), and they hear themselves struggle. And don't get me started on when they end just a little behind and then don't read the next summer. It's a very sad road to travel. Luckily, this is the end of May, and you have a whole summer to keep that child reading. Do it!! :)

As a parent, I'm going to challenge you even a step further. Don't just have your child read, help them choose quality reading. One of my pet peeves is kids reading poor quality literature. There are so many books out there with rich language and engaging storylines. I know sometimes the kids want to read the latest fad, but sometimes the latest fad isn't really all that great. Every so often my son will choose one of those books that was a movie first. I cringe, but I grit my teeth and get through it. The book reads like a laundry list. This happened, and then this, and then this, and so on and so forth. There is no authentic voice, very little humor (for a kid who adores humor), and the vocabulary is often quite disappointing. Of course, I do like that he is choosing his own books, and I will continue to encourage that, but I also continue to place books that promote quality storytelling in his at-home library.
I know someday, at some point, he'll stare down at a page, telling him to write an essay, and I want him to have a rich storytelling foundation to help him do this. I also, and more importantly, want to encourage a love of reading in him to last a life time. So, please, don't waste a ton of time, gritting your teeth and, instead, encourage the stories that will change a life. Yes, that means if you aren't a big reader, you may need to do your research, but it will be so worth it.

As an author, yes, this is a shameless plug, but I really am proud of my picture books. Katie Ling Fashion Queen positively promotes individuality and fluency while I Really Love You, Ava helps children better understand and appreciate their families and in a truly fun and meaningful way.

Let's encourage summer reading together!

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