We recently brought you Five Ways to Promote Endless Summer Reading, an action/adventure guide to getting your children to read this summer. Today, we’re pleased to present the sequel, with a few more research-backed tips to enjoy Endless Summer Reading. Get your popcorn. Here’s the tableau:
Scene 1 – Do the Digital Download.
Some tweens and teens are reluctant to grab a book to read during down time at home or while traveling, but few want to be without their mobile devices. Most mobile phones support reading apps, placing a good book at your fingertips. Did you know that you can borrow free electronic books from most public libraries? Visit your local library or their website for more information. Also, Project Gutenberg offers over 57,000 free ebooks, and this site lists several more sources for free digital titles!
Scene 2 – Go Light on the Audiobooks.
Audiobooks are an increasingly popular option for exposing children to literature, but they should not be considered a substitute for picture books for emerging readers. A recent study used MRI to explore the effects of story format on children’s brains. Findings from the study suggest a “Goldilocks Effect” for children ages 4-5, where stories presented in audio only were found to be “too cold,” creating cognitive strain. At the opposite end of the spectrum, stories presented with full animation, cartoon-style, were “too hot,” spurring limited connectivity among brain networks. Stories presented auditorily and with illustrations were “just right,” with illustrations providing scaffolding to allow the most active imagery and reflection in the child’s brain.
This study reinforces the value of picture books for children, especially when the parent or caregiver reads to the child. If you’re looking to engage young children in literacy even when you’re not able to sit down and read with them, don’t rely solely on audiobooks. Be sure to provide traditional or electronic picture books for maximum brain engagement.
Scene 3 – Consider Picture Books for Adolescents.
Picture books, the staple of early childhood literacy lessons, aren’t only for young children. Publishers now offer picture books geared toward adolescents, covering a wide range of relevant topics in both fiction and nonfiction. As with coffee table books for adults, picture books can be lush and enjoyable to page through, fostering a level of comfort with books. With less text to read and with illustrations to support the text, these books can be better options than chapter books for struggling or reluctant readers.
When visiting the library, consider picking up a couple of teen-friendly picture books and making them available for your adolescent to “discover” on the end table or kitchen counter. In addition to discussing the benefits of picture books for adolescents, this article includes a detailed bibliography of over 50 books to consider, grouped by topic. Remember, though, that many of these deal with topics that could be too mature for younger readers, so nix the “leave them lying around” part if there are younger children in the household!
Scene 4 – Think Outside the Book.
While there’s great value in children engaging in a story, if all children loved getting lost in a novel, we wouldn’t need this article! Remember that there are many types of reading material and occasions to read beyond chapter books. Recipes, instructions for crafts and projects, and descriptions of potential places to visit all provide opportunities to read for a purpose. In fact, such purposeful reading isn’t just an acceptable alternative to literature; it’s an essential part of literacy development. Think of the variety of text you read other than books!
If your child consistently shuns literature, it doesn’t have to mean he isn’t reading at all. Provide opportunities for many types of reading, and remember that children’s reading isn’t measured only in the number of books they complete.
Make no mistake, Endless Summer Reading isn’t a fairy tale; it’s action/adventure! What ideas do you have for Endless Summer Reading? Tell us on Facebook or tweet us your best ideas on Twitter (@NWEA).