6 Reading Challenges to Fight the Summer Slump
by rebecca stewart
Okay, so we’re officially settled into the lazy days of summer, we’ve shaken off the end of school year hangover. (So to speak). Seriously, the level of done-ness that is May for the kids, teachers, and parents is incomparable. Settled into this new routine of summer fun though we may be, now it’s time to fight the summer slump. Ah, the summer slump. Obviously we don’t want our kids to lose what they worked so hard to gain over the school year, but after copious amounts of timings, testing, reading logs, and homework; our will to fight might be lacking. Just a little. So what if it didn’t have to be a “fight,” and we could entice our kids into the pages with some fun reading challenges? (And it doesn’t hurt if you create a cozy nook, or make the hammock readily available to draw in your young reader).
Challenge 1: A Race to the Finish
Pick a series and see it through to the end. Whether it’s Fancy Nancy or Nancy Clancy, Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones, Owl Diaries, Fly Guy, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, Descendants, Geronimo (or Thea) Stilton, Divergent, Harry Potter…Find a character they can't get enough of, and see them through the series.
Challenge 2: From the Pages of Your Childhood
Not to dismiss all of the great children’s/youth literature that’s current today, there’s still something to be said about some of the gems from our youth – in fact many classics have been given fresh looks as they still grace the shelves of bookstores. Think: Baby-Sitters Club, the Ramona series (really anything by Beverly Cleary), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing/Fudge (again, anything by Judy Blume), Encyclopedia Brown, Bridge to Terabithia, Number the Stars, Charlotte’s Web, Harriet the Spy, The Lord of the Rings, anything by Roald Dahl…The list could go on and on, rediscover your old favorites along with the kids.
Challenge 3: Can the Movie Stand Up to the Book?
Okay, so we know that more often than not, when a book is made into a movie, the movie pales in comparison to the book. (Looking at you The Lovely Bones). Sometimes it’s a win-win, and other times it’s at least a passable effort. Entice the kids in with the books first, then plan for the movie night. (Be on a special lookout for books that are coming to the big screen this summer). Some books to movies to consider: The Fault in Our Stars, Hunger Games, Before I Fall, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, The Adventures of Captain Underpants, Wonder, Bridge to Terabithia, Roald Dahl has oodles of books to movies, and so many others.
Challenge 4: Look beyond the Traditional
For some kids, the idea of sitting down and muddling through your typical words and pages is basically a yawn-fest. Get/keep the ball rolling by introducing some books that fall outside of the usual, yep, we’re thinking graphic novels. Case in point, my daughter received Sisters and Smile by Raina Telgemeier for Christmas and she read Sisters in its entirety on Christmas Day. Check out this list of graphic novels for everyone from the littles to the bigs, compiled by Common Sense Media. And let us not forget the rhyming gifts of fun from Shel Silverstein!
Challenge 5: Team Effort
I don’t know about you, but as my girl hit the double digits, her reading became more of a solo effort, with me reading to her or her reading to me happening less and less often. Embrace the more laidback schedule that summer offers and reintroduce the reading together time. If the kids feel too old to snuggle into the couch and read out loud with you, then try reading the same books and talking it out. Might I suggest – for moms and teen daughters – Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and her daughter and co-writer, Samantha van Leer.
Challenge 6: Beyond the Pages
Have your young reader (yes, this is a children’s book, but this challenge is good for all ages), read Helen Palmer’s A Fish Out of Water and go beyond the pages with their theories on how Mr. Carp manages to return Otto the goldfish back to his original size. Fun fact: Helen Palmer is Mrs. Dr. Seuss. You don't have to stick to this book, get creative, whether it's writing their own works or getting into fanfiction. Just...have fun digging deeper. Don't forget to have your young reader sign up for the various Summer Reading Programs! (Billings Public Library, Laurel Public Library, Barnes & Noble). Friends of the Library is also running a Young Author Contest at Billings Public Library, get the details at www.billingslibrary.org.