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Jul 21, 2021
Though summer hopefully has been a time for rest, relaxation, and reset, it’s also perhaps had some required summer reading for your student (whether they’ve started it yet or not...) This type of homework can feel like the antithesis of fun, especially during summer vacation, and your student may feel like putting it off until the last minute. This is often the moment at which summer reading suddenly becomes an unsought-after family affair.
So how can you approach required reading during the summer in a more relaxed manner? The answer is actually pretty straightforward: engage in more non-required reading activities. Yep, that’s right, I’m suggesting your student—and you—read more. I’m also suggesting you create a reading culture in your home.
To illustrate what creating a reading culture might look like, consider a lovely Christmas Eve tradition in Iceland called Jólabókaflóð (which translates to “Yule Book Flood”). Imagine this summer variation: a book exchange within your family that ends with everyone finding a comfy spot to sit down with their new book and a cool drink. Doesn’t that sound delightful?
Each family’s reading culture will differ. It may involve traditions, like the one described above, or occasional activities. Below are a few practices to build your family’s reading culture, which will also hopefully make reading exciting and gratifying for your student.
To help students build their sequencing and reading comprehension skills, put them in charge of researching a recipe, reading directions, and organizing ingredients. Not only will this reading activity end in a tangible reward, but it’s also a great way to teach attention to detail, project management, and attention skills in an interactive setting. If you have young learners, this Scholastic article offers some extra benefits of cooking with kids, including vocabulary building and reading “environmental print”—that is, words that are accompanied by visual cues—when looking for the needed ingredients.
A great way to demonstrate “we-do” modeling to students is to either read aloud with or read alongside your students. To learn more about the value of families reading aloud, check out the Read Aloud Revival, a website that offers resources (the podcast is excellent), book recommendations, and insight from experts about why reading aloud is so beneficial. Not only does reading aloud promote reading comprehension and help students form connections between ideas, for students in both primary and secondary education and higher education, reading aloud has been found to boost feelings of belonging and being part of a community. And this makes sense: reading aloud moves reading from a solitary action to an interactional one.
While your teen may not want to read aloud with you or anyone else, you can still create an interactional setting. Consider forming a book club within your home. Does your teen have to read The Grapes of Wrath over the summer? Read the book alongside your teen and come together for discussion every so often. Bring up questions you have about the book, and see what your teen thinks. Some teens may have both summer reading and writing assignments based on the readings. Consider framing your discussions as springboards for making the writing assignments less stressful.
Storytelling is an awesome way to make reading more interactive. Play games with your family that allow for storytelling and story-shaping. Here are a few ideas:
So, I invite you to make reading less of a “school thing” and more of an everyday thing this summer. That way, when summer reading due dates roll around, your student will have a lot of positive experiences with non-required reading to make the task feel like no sweat.
Learn how to navigate conversations with your student on reading and other school-related topics with less conflict by downloading our infographic.
Lindsey Weishar is a freelance editor and writer, as well as an executive function coach for Beyond BookSmart. She possesses an MFA in Creative Writing and Media Arts from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and has seven years of teaching experience in the following settings: high school special education classes (as a paraprofessional), college-level writing classes, and adult-level literacy and English language classes. Her mission is to help individuals more greatly delight in reading and writing.
Executive function coaching for students online throughout the U.S. and internationally.
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