Summer days are long. Which means you don’t have to make any hard choices — between, say, swimming in the lake and sitting in the shade with a book in hand. Summer is all about having your cake and eating it too. Getting out for a paddle, a swim, a hike — but also grabbing that beach read, that weighty classic, or that audiobook that desperately wants to come along on your road trip.
For children, reading during the summer is not just about entertainment (although it can be that, too!). It’s about keeping up those literacy skills that they worked so hard to build up during the school year. Studies have shown that children who don’t exercise their reading muscles over the summer can regress up to three months back in terms of reading level.
How to beat this so-called “summer slide?” It’s simple: encourage your child to devote a bit of time every day to reading. Just 20 minutes a day is all it takes. And it doesn’t just have to be books — read a recipe with them, the back of the cereal box, or even a comic strip.
Here’s another thing you can do: bring your child to the library! We’ve got thousands of books, as well as magazines, graphic novels, comic books, and more. And we also run a Summer Reading Club from July 2 to Aug. 15 — a free, drop-in, no-registration program designed to engage school-aged children (ages 6-12).
Despite what the name might suggest, there’s a whole lot more going on than just reading. We’ll do crafts, play games, listen to stories, learn from guest presenters, and go on exciting field trips. The program runs Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (there will also be Lego drop-ins one afternoon a week, for all ages).
This year, our two Summer Reading Club co-ordinators are Victoria and Hailey. They’ve got lots of experience, and a real passion for working with children. For the past two weeks they’ve been hard at work planning all sorts of fun. Which means you can expect Pokemon scavenger hunts, another installment of our legendary Harry Potter days, some wacky science experiments, DIY monster crafts, fairy tale adventures, and even some dragon fun! We’ll also play with our Code and Go Robot Mouse, a musical puppet show, an endangered animal activity via the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, and a visit from the always-popular STEAMTruck as it tours around the Kootenays.
Starting on July 2, we’ll also have Reading Records for you to pick up — handy little booklets that will help your child track their reading over the summer. Each time they complete a page they’ll get a sticker, and those who complete the entire booklet will get a medal at the end of the summer.
And don’t just let your child have all the fun — pick up a book yourself! There’s nothing like a good role model. Some other tips for summer reading success: share stories at bedtime, encourage older kids to read aloud to younger ones, listen to audiobooks together (they’ll help build your child’s vocabulary), show genuine interest in what your child is reading, and don’t worry if your child picks books that look “too easy.” It never hurts for them to build confidence in their reading ability.
Whew! I know that’s a lot. But it’s really quite simple: don’t let reading fall by the wayside this summer. Check out a stack of books for your kids, and leave them in a prominent location in your home. Pick up a reading record and help them keep track of their daily reading. And if you’re so inclined, bring your children to our Summer Reading Club drop-ins. It’s the easiest choice you’ll make all summer long.
Avi Silberstein is the children’s librarian at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out appears here every other week.