By Denise Yearian
Summer may be a recess from academic rigors, but it’s no time for your children to take a break from written words. Here are 10 creative ways to keep kids reading and writing throughout summer vacation.
- Ignite their interest. One key to sparking children’s interests in reading is to find out what subjects and genres they enjoy. If your child likes videogames, get a book on programming. If it’s sports or mysteries, find authors who specialize in those areas. Carry this over to writing by encouraging your child to create a new sport. What would the rules be? If your child likes mysteries, suggest he write an alternative ending to a story he has just read.
- A family affair. Don’t assume your kids are motivated to read by themselves. Rally their interest in reading by reading to them. Children like to hear about heroes older than they are, but those books may be above their reading level. If your child is old enough, read a few paragraphs, pages or a chapter and then have him read to you.
- Box up boredom. Turn those books into box projects. After your child reads a book, encourage him to create a diorama of his favorite character’s room, home or a scene where the story takes place. He could also make an identity box filled with a characters belonging. A larger box makes a great puppet stage.
- Awesome authors. Pick an author your child enjoys and have him read several of his books to compare and contrast themes and characters. Take this one step further by discovering more about the author’s life, too. This will give your child insight on where story and character ideas originated. Many authors have websites where kids can email questions and get responses. Some even have extension activities for their books.
- Newspaper novelties. Give your preschooler a crayon and have him circle certain letters in headlines. Your older child may enjoy cutting out unrelated pictures and creating a story that somehow connects them all. Don’t forget to read articles that take in your child’s interests.
- Audio adventures. If you don’t have a lot of time to sit down and read to your child, there are a number of audio books in different genres you can listen to in the car together.
7. Discovery diary. The writing process doesn’t have to be long to be fruitful, but it does need to be fun. At the start of summer, let your child purchase a journal to log summer discoveries. As you take trips to various places such as museums or science centers, have him write a little bit about what he learned and include pictures he draws or takes with a camera. A discovery made while at the store or a new food he tried at the restaurant can be a journal entry, too.
- Want to piggyback? One really popular type of poetry is called “Piggyback Poetry.” This is where the author has taken a well-known song or poem, such as “Take me out to the Ballgame” and translated it into something new such as, “Take me out of the Bathtub,” using the same rhythm and cadence. Have your child pick out a song or poem he enjoys and write his own piggyback.
- Acting adventures. Have your child write an adventure based on a book he’s just read and use the same characters. Or have him make up his own character, one where he is projected into the story. Then create an indoor theatre with friends or siblings and put on a production.
- Tap into trips. If you’re going on vacation, have your child help plan the trip. Pick up a few travel books and let him research sites he would like to see. Also look for materials that talk about the destination’s history. Staying local? Challenge your child to use a trip to a nearby theme park to research and compare those roller coasters with others around the country. Or check out what is happening at local museums, science centers or live theatres. Many of these topics can be used as springboards for reading and learning more.
Denise Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines and the mother of three children and four grandchildren.