Today was the beginning of summer reading at the little public library where I work. We had a very busy day with families coming in, and lots of books being checked out of the library. It can be fun, it can be stressful, but I really do love the people I serve and am glad to do it.
There was a mom with a little boy, a very little boy, who was in tears. He didn't know what signing up for summer reading was, and the poor little darling was scared out of his wits. I gingerly walked up to him and asked him if he would like a sticker. He sniffled, and said yes and took it from my outstretched hand. Somehow they got to register the tyke with my teen volunteers, although not without a few more tears. Really, summer reading is NOT a scary thing. I hope his next visit to the library will be more pleasant.
When my boys were young, and I worked in libraries, I would always try to plan programs they and other kids their age would like. Now, they are grown, or almost so. I still like to plan programs, story times, and craft days. Sometimes my teenager volunteers, but I am not sure if he will this year. I have asked him and his band to play for a party for my TV (teen volunteers) in mid August.
Right now, I am going to give a shameless plug for public libraries and summer reading programs. If you have kids, read to them. If you have kids, bring them to the library. They need to have something to do for those rainy thunderstorm days, for the hot days when there is nothing much to do, and it is too hot to do it. Most libraries offer a summer reading program where youngsters can get stickers, pencils, little prizes for reading. The kids love it, though I am not sure about the parents. My prizes are mostly donated by people throughout the year and we have them in a plastic treasure box for the kids to wade through, uh, sort through. Most school require your children to read, and most libraries collaborate with the local schools to present a summer program. Some of my fondest early memories were of visiting the library by my grandparents in the summertime and borrowing books.
Let me make a few suggestions to encourage your young reader:
1. Give your child the chance to choose what he or she would like to read. Yes, they will have assigned reading (elementary, middle, and high schools have reading requirements typically.) But you know what, encourage them to pick up something they want to read, and don't criticize their choice. So what if it is a board book, perhaps it brings back happy memories of when they were little. So what if it is a graphic novel, these are great for the reluctant reader, and especially for those struggling who need something visual to spur them on. So what if it is a book about dogs and it came from the adult section, perhaps you have a budding veterinarian.
2. Let your child catch you reading! Yes, pick up a novel, a best seller, a memoir, a do-it-yourself project book and let your child see you enjoy reading.
3. Don't forget audio books - These are available in some libraries as downloadable, or on CD's, and some libraries still have audiotapes. Many memories were made, and car trips shortened by listening to Jim Dale and his fabulous reading of the Harry Potter series. There are many titles in the library that have family appeal, just ask the librarian for suggestions.
4. Make sure to bring some books and magazines with you when you go on vacation.
5. Read to your child/children, even if you think they are getting too big, or that they can read on your own. Even older children love the comfort of being read to on the couch next to a parent, grandparent, or sibling. Continue reading to your child even though they are reading for themselves as it helps them to develop and understand oral reading, and vocabulary.
6. Many libraries have museum passes that will allow a family to visit local museums for a reduced admission, or in some cases even free! Check with your local library. There were times when we did not have enough to go on a regular vacation, and found that borrowing passes from the library allowed us to go on day trips that made great family fun!
Ok, You catch my drift. I AM a librarian, after all.
Add reading to your "to do" list, along with family fun fitness, healthy eating, and vacation fun.