When my children were young, it was not easy to keep them interested in reading during the summer months. Their excuse was always, “but we are on vacation!” I am certain that reading can be a challenge in many homes during summer vacation. I believe that there are a couple of things parents can do to instill the love of reading and that could help the argument to keep reading during the break. One is to begin exposing children to books at a very young age, even when they are babies, and two is to already have a reading plan scheduled before summer begins. As children get older, they can be involved in developing this plan. Growing up understanding that reading is part of the family’s daily life, helps the children lose the argument and hopefully be excited about tackling that summer reading list.
Irma Vazquez, a bilingual educator for thirty years and founder of My Escuelita: Spanish for Kids in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, recommends that parents keep reading lists relevant and to set the tone for what she calls the summer adventure. “Choose books that are relevant, meaningful, books they can connect to, identify with, perhaps. And look for alternatives to books too. Associate reading with serenity, peaceful settings. Parents should show love for reading and talk with their children about favorite books, authors, illustrators, and prefer language to read.”
Dr. Seuss once said, “The more that you read, the more things that you will know. The more that you will learn, the more places you’ll go.” Hence, we want to raise children that read because it enriches their vocabulary, they learn about sentence structures and how to communicate better, and they will get to “visit” many places and envision themselves in the places stories they read. And, if they are being raised bilingual and we exposed them to reading in two languages, imagine how much richer their life will be!
Below are 10 things to encourage reading this summer. I hope they work in your home and that your children will benefit from these suggestions.
- Establish a reading plan from the beginning, when children are babies.
- Read to them popped up in your lap or bring books to the floor and sit with them and look at board books and picture books together.
- As they grow older, create a reading space at home to motivate reading: A nook in his bedroom, a corner area in the play room or anywhere in the house. Make it cozy and fun with a colorful sitting area, a comfy chair, a rug. A book case with books in both languages, easy for the children to grab and read.
- Take the children to the library for reading time and also to take books out and bring home. Help them pick the books but make age-level suggestions that you think would increase his vocabulary, books in English and in Spanish.
- Establish a reading routine: at bedtime, before or after dinner, after breakfast, before play.
- Establish language reading days: Mon-Wed in English, Th-Sun in Spanish or vice versa. Perhaps each day the children read 15-20 minutes in English and later in the day 15-20 minutes in Spanish. Of course, we adjust depending on the child’s age. If babies, we sit down with them a shorter period of time, although we could expose them to books twice a day.
- As the children grow older, expose them to more advanced books, like chapter books that will increase vocabulary and create a deeper bond between parent and child.
- Read out loud often—parents read and have the children read out loud too!
- Find resources that will expand the home library. There are now many book subscription boxes available that deliver books right to the home and it would make it fun for children to look forward to receiving the new books.
- Be a good example for your children: Read in front of them! Books, magazines, newspapers. If parents are excited about reading, children will follow.