Just when your child develops a strong grasp on reading at grade level along comes summer, when trips to the swimming pool, picnics and baseball games tend to take the focus away from books. Why not start up a kids’ summer reading group? It’s a fun way to stir up interest in reading and prevent the research-proven fact that many children fall behind in reading skills over the summer.
Gather a group of your child’s peers and ask parents to consider hosting one summer reading group meeting each. For smaller kids, start every book club meeting with the parent-led reading of an age-appropriate picture book. Older children should arrive at the book club meeting having already read the book of choice so that they can jump right into a group discussion. Follow up the reading/discussion with a book-related craft or snack.
Seven steps to
starting a Kids’ Summer Reading Group:
1. Compose a letter to the parents in your child’s class. Ask parents if they are interested in participating, have them indicate possible times/dates that they are able to host and provide some ideas for age-appropriate books and related snacks and crafts.
2. Be sure to invite a wide range of kids. Not everyone will be able to participate and this is a chance for your child to get to know everyone in his/her class. Note that parents lacking space to host a large group of kids might consider hosting at a local library or park, and remind parents that even if they are unable to host, their children are still welcome to participate.
3. Talk to your child’s teacher: He or she can distribute the parent letter and offer helpful suggestions and resources.
4. Once you receive parent input, compile a list of family contact information, as well as a master schedule of book club dates and titles. Forward the information to participating children. A good way to facilitate communication is to create your own Yahoo group (www.yahoogroups.com). From here you can send out e-mail invites, keep a detailed database for anything from contact information to books read and conveniently RSVP.
5. Once-a-week meetings are ideal, but since not every parent may be able to host, create a schedule that works for your group.
6. For smaller children, limit the book club meeting to one hour.
7. Ask the older child who is hosting the reading group to come up with the group discussion questions.
Some examples of books and related activities
For older kids:
n Harry Potter series: make your own origami snitch. Directions can be found at: http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/origami_golden_snitch.htm.
n The Wright Three by Blue Balliett: provide some drafting paper and pencils and have kids design their own fantasy homes.
n Any mystery novel: send kids off on an outdoor scavenger hunt.
For younger kids:
n Curious George Makes a Pizza by Margaret Rey: make your own mini pizza snack with English muffins. Spread pizza sauce on an English muffin half, sprinkle with cheese, decorate with pepperoni and veggies such as mushrooms and chopped yellow peppers and bake.
n I Want To Be A Pilot by Dan Liebman: make your own paper airplanes and test which child’s flies the farthest.
n Round Trip by Ann Jonas: for optical illusion-related crafts, check out http://www.funology.com/braindrains/bd_opticalillusions.htm.