Summer Is Perfect Time to Encourage Reading
Store shelves may be burgeoning with back to school supplies, but if your kids are like most, they have a few more days or weeks of summer to enjoy. And summer can be a great time to cuddle up with a book of their choice. But for some parents, encouraging their children to read can be a challenge.
A Scholastic report released in January found a decline in “reading for fun” at home among boys and older teenagers. Four years ago, 32 percent of school-age boys said they read for fun five to seven days a week. Now that number has dropped to 24 percent. While screen time may seem like the obvious culprit in less reading time, the study found that the “most powerful predictor was whether children said they really enjoyed reading, whether they believed that it was important to read for fun, and whether their parents, too, were frequent readers.”
Popular book series like Percy Jackson and Twilight were “hot” four years ago and may have encouraged more reading than books that were offered in 2014.
While parents of preschoolers believed it was important to read aloud to their children, the study found that less than two-thirds of them read to their children on a daily basis. And in very low-income families less than half had heard about the importance of reading to young children.
Maybe surprisingly, children want printed version of books more often than electronic formats. The preference for printed books is up over the past two years. Declining interest in electronic books showed up across all ages.
Finally, the Scholastic survey found that children wanted their parents to continue to read to them even after they reached school age. Of all age groups in the study, 83 percent of children said they loved or “liked a lot” when parents read aloud to them at home. However reportedly only 24 percent of 6-8-year-olds and 17 percent of 9-11-year-olds said someone read to them at home.
Kristen Harmeling, one of the participating researchers from YouGov that helped conduct the study, said parents can take away the message to “start early and stay at it” when it comes to reading to their children.
RIF (Reading is Fundamental) also suggests that reading during the summer can help children gain reading skills rather than suffer from “summer slide”, a phenomenon that occurs when children’s minds sit idle.
The organization recommends parents help encourage reading over the summer by combining books and activities such as reading a book about baseball before going to a game. Children can also read a book and then watch the movie it is based on. Parents can also organize visits to the library, provide children with plenty of reading material and set aside time for them to read. Children can also benefit from seeing their parents read and from having their parents read to them.
Without the pressures of homework and assigned reading, summer can also be a great time to introduce children to your favorite books from childhood.