Is reading while school is closed necessary?
It is so easy to let reading expectations slide during the off-time from school. The problem is that it plays a bigger impact than most parents realize. Going weeks without reading leads to reading ability loss. Let's take the National Summer Learning Association statistic that students can lose 2-3 months of reading gains over the summer. Now let's consider how much time they are out of school for the holidays, 3ish weeks (depending on the district), so if we apply the same rate of loss over the summer, they can stand to lose a little less than a month of reading ability. Combined with the fact that pandemic learning has left everyone behind, I see trouble on the rise.
As an Academic Coach and reading specialist, I am getting lots of calls from parents who have children struggling to read because of the effects of pandemic learning. Not reading for weeks will only worsen the issues we are already seeing. I have included four of my top suggestions to keep kids reading this holiday season while still having fun and spending quality family time.
Keep it simple. Picture books are reading and are a great way to fit it in. They are only 32 pages, and the illustrations help pull your reader into the story.
A common misconception is that picture books are easy and do not provide enough challenge for students past 1st-2nd grade; this is not true. First, reading is beneficial despite the “reading levels” we assign books - why that is, is a whole other conversation. Second, picture books go all the way up to middle and high school reading levels. Just because a book is shorter and has pictures does not mean it is easy to read. Use these features to entice your child to read, “It is short and has some awesome pictures.”
Or I should say, new-to-you books. I have the best memories of my mom having a huge bag we would fill up at the library and read “new” books for a week! It helped keep things fresh. You could do this for the holidays and entice your child with books they have not seen before.
*Bonus* Lots of libraries put on seasonal crafts and activities. Add to the fun by lining up your library trip with an event they are putting on.
I feel the parent eye roll on this one, but hear me out. I have yet to meet a parent that likes graphic novels, and in all honesty, it is not my book of choice. But I urge you to stop talking negatively about them with your child!
You say: “I just hate these graphic novels, don’t you want to read Harry Potter, you love those movies.”
Child Hears: The books I like are not good. I just shouldn’t read.
If your child is motivated by graphic novels, keep your opinion to yourself and let them read on. Reading is reading. As adults, we don’t all like the same books, and we don’t force our book choices on other adults. Why are we pushing our book choices onto our kids?
So, grab that graphic novel they have been dying to read and let it motivate them to read over the holidays!
Books on Audible
Do you have many hours of traveling ahead? Books on audible are a great way to get some rea
ding in. There is this misconception that having a book read to you reduces its benefits, which is simply untrue. It is the opposite. Reading books aloud is a huge indicator of school success. It helps students with word pronunciation, fluency, cognitive functioning, stronger vocabulary, and increases enjoyment (this list could keep going, but I will cut it off here because you get the idea).
Calculate your travel time and select a book that's reading time will take up about half. Reading will not be the only activity they want to do in transit. My goal would be to finish the book before arriving at your destination. The likelihood of them listening while at grandma’s house is slim, and we don’t want it to turn into a book they have started and never finished. It is better to select a short book for the way to grandma’s house and a different book for the way home.
Make it Fun!
I make it fun in our house by wrapping up different holiday books then unwrapping a new one each night. This isn’t my original idea, Amy Lemons shared it on her Instagram with her kids, and I hopped on board. I am not sure where it started. We don’t buy new books (that adds up quickly), but I purchase holiday books secondhand, gather them, and wrap them up in butcher paper. Each night we open one book to read for storytime. It is still fun because it is a novel activity that creates suspense around reading during the holidays. I purposefully include books that represent different cultures and places, so we learn about how people celebrate all over the world. My boys are little, but others like Amy still do this with their older children, who enjoy it!
The bottom line… don’t bite off more than you can chew. Pick one strategy to make a bit of reading happen and, above all else, enjoy the time together. If your child is struggling with reading, reach out to us and get your child 1:1 help.