Ah, summer! Warm weather, barbeques, hiking, catching lightning bugs, and, the part I look forward to the most, reading a good book (or two, or three) poolside or on the beach. It’s the ultimate summer indulgence. What could be better than relaxing inside of a gripping story while the kids run off to splash and play?
It’s no secret that reading over the summer for kids is even more important than it is for adults. The importance of having children read over the summer to prevent the loss or diminishment of reading skills gleaned over the school year can not be over-emphasized. But trying to get some kids to read while there is summer fun to be had can be akin to getting them to eat broccoli at Hersheypark. Luckily for parents, there are a number of incentive programs to help get kids excited about reading books.
A parent’s best ally in this battle is the Cranford Public Library. Each summer, the library runs a reading club for neighborhood kids, who can earn points and prizes for books read. And who doesn’t love borrowing free books from the library? Information will be sent home with children via school flyers within the next two weeks, so keep a look-out for details in homework folders.
And it’s not only kids who can get prizes for reading this summer. Not wanting to let kids get all of the fun, the Cranford Public Library will also be conducting its third annual ADULT summer reading program. Adults age 18 or older are encouraged to participate. Beginning June 7th, each adult who registers will receive a reading log, along with the rules of participation. Reading logs can be submitted from June 17th through August 10th. Each week, there will be random drawings for prizes, with a grand prize drawing on August 14th for $75 gift certificates to three Cranford restaurants – Kilkenny House, Café Lia, and The Italian Pantry Bistro, courtesy of the Friends of the Cranford Public Library. A perfect combination . . . . digest a good book, and digest a good meal! Oh, and another bonus . . . . . the first 25 people to register will receive a $2.oo coupon to use at the library’s used book sale this June!
Prefer a book store to the library? Barnes and Noble also offers an incentive reading program for kids in grades 1 – 6. Stop by any Barnes and Noble store, (the Clark and Springfield stores are each less than 10 minutes from town), and pick up a “Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Imagination’s Destination” reading journal. Kids log the books they read, and why they would recommend the book to a friend. (BONUS! It gets them to practice their creative writing skills, as well!) When they reach their goal of 8 books, they choose from a list of books, and are awarded that book for free. Of course, there is also storytime and coloring several mornings a week. (Call the individual store for exact hours, as it differs from store to store.) Adult book clubs are also in full swing over the summer. Again, titles and meeting times differ from store to store. Personally, I love heading into the bookstore and just sniffing. Yes, sniffing. The smell of all of those new books on the shelves is like perfume from heaven. Don’t judge me. Go sniff for yourself.
Of course, students often get either a required or a suggested reading list from school. The nice part about the above mentioned incentive programs is the overlap. Titles that are being read for school can also count towards both the library and Barnes and Noble programs. That may add a little incentive for the begrudging young reader. A little bribery properly played can bring a positive outcome.
Of course, the number one thing any parent can do to inspire their children to read is, well . . . . . READ. Children who see that their parents value reading and derive excitement and enjoyment from it are more likely to become readers themselves. And really, there is no greater gift you can give to your child than a love for reading, and the opportunity to do so. So take advantage of the library or book stores in our area. Find a friend or neighbor with a firepit in their backyard. Sit around, make ‘smores, and talk about a book in a book club of your own making. Throw a good book in the backseat for long car trips. Read a chapter book at the same time as your child, and discuss it. Make it fun. Make it desirable. I promise you it is something you will never, ever be sorry for.