Summer may be fun in the sun for most children, but for many, summer also means a regression in their reading skills.
Local educators and libraries are trying to help keep students interested in reading this summer through reading programs and getting parents involved.
“The most important thing they can do is read to and with their children daily,” said Phillips Elementary Principal Kristi Lantz. “As long as children are being exposed to text, (it’s beneficial).”
She said she likes the quote “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents” by Emilie Buchwald, an award-winning children’s author.
Many students regress in their reading skills during the summer and parents should keep checking out books and keeping children involved so that doesn’t happen.
“This coming Tuesday, we are going to promote the ‘We Both Read’ books, where parents will read the left side and the kids read the right hand side,” Lantz said.
Lantz has been keeping students interested in reading through Facebook Live, a program she started in March. Called ‘Tucked in Tuesday,’ she reads an interactive book live for students to watch at bedtime on the Phillips Elementary School Facebook page. This summer, the time will be 8 p.m.
She started getting feedback from students, that for some, it’s the only story they will hear that week. All children are able to tune in and listen to the stories.
There is no theme to the stories Lantz reads, she just tries to make them interactive by wearing costumes.
“I’ll do anything as long as it’s in the best interest of the children,” she said. Her live feed has varied from 500 to 1,500 views since she started.
“One of the best was the first, ‘The Hungry Caterpillar,’ which had several thousand views,” she added.
Lantz said she is a firm believer in the power of the library.
“I think that during school, that home-school connection is important. In the summer, the library is like a sibling to us,” she explained. “They provide the resources and the various texts needed so the students won’t have that summer slide.”
She said libraries have a wealth of knowledge and kids can read about anything they are interested in.
“Libraries are less structured and more fun for children,” Lantz said. “It’s up to them. If they want to read every single book about dirt bikes or fairy princesses, they can. Everything is free. It’s basically giving the children access to a world they want to create, free of charge.”
Emily Keller, children’s library assistant at the Washington County Public Library in Marietta, agreed.
“The first thing is to find books they are interested in,” she said. “Books on dogs or horses or magic.”
Six-year-old Bennett Schwendeman of Marietta is one of the readers who picked the hobby because of things he is interested in.
“I like Pokemon. I have a chapter book on Batman,” he said. “I like comics.”
Although he said he likes to read, reading during the summer isn’t one of his favorite things. He said he “reads sometimes.”
In contrast, 10-year-old Skylar Baugher from Marietta will read anything.
“I really like chapter books,” she said. “I don’t have any favorites or anything. I like them all.”
The library has a summer reading program called “A Universe of Stories,” which rewards children for reading.
Children will be provided with a reading log where they keep track of what they read and they can win prizes and free books of their choice. There are also individual programs with books, where kids can win books related to the subject.
For instance, with the American Girl program, readers can get a Girl of the Year book when it is published.
“We try to keep with more literary-based activities with prizes for them so they can feel like they are winning something, but are rewarded with a book instead of just candy or a toy,” Keller explained.
Some of the more popular books that can be checked out this summer are the ‘Wings of Fire’ series by Tui T. Sutherland and ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ by Jeff Kinney, which has not died down in popularity, Keller said. The library frequently receives new books that are checked out quickly.
“Our new picture books go really quickly,” she said. “For chapter books, I think there’s ‘Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior,’ which is all based on Minecraft, by Cube Kid. Those are popular as well.”
For those who aren’t naturally readers, it’s more tricky to get them interested, Keller noted.
“I would suggest there are some graphic novels we have that still count for a lot of the AR (Accelerated Reading) lists that schools use,” she said.
She said it helps them get into reading because there are images that make it more interactive than just words on a page.
“Find something they really enjoy, because we have books about different sports, lots of different activities, historical fiction and non-fiction that are also on the AR reading list that count,” Keller said. “It’s hard sometimes to help the kids figure out where they are comfortable and what they want to read. That’s the trickiest part of this job.”
Even reading for a short time can help a child from regressing during the summer.
“A good rule of thumb is about 15 to 20 minutes. Kids start to lose interest after about 15 minutes,” Lantz said. “If kids would commit to reading 15 minutes a day, every day, even during the summer, that would help.”
For those who do not have easy access to a library, the library can come to them through the Washington County library’s bookmobile. The bookmobile runs Tuesdays through Thursdays. Books are available for all ages.
The schedule of stops can be found on the library’s website at https://www.wcplib.info/bookstops.
Along with reading programs, county libraries are holding other events for young patrons this summer.
Upcoming events include an American Girl Party for those ages 7 to 12 from 1:30 to 2:30 on Tuesday at the Marietta Library; Catch the Sun craft day for kids ages 0 to 13 from 10 to11 a.m. Wednesday at the New Matamoras Library; and a Mad Hatter Tea from 11 a.m. to noon Friday at the Beverly Library.
Tips to keep children reading this summer:
• Parents should read to and be read to by their children.
• Pick books about activities the children are interested in, such as dirt bikes or horses.
• Get the kids interested in a summer reading program that rewards them for reading.
• If your child isn’t normally a reader, things like graphic novels may get them interested, as they are more interactive.
Sources: Phillips Elementary Principal Kristi Lantz and Washington County Public Library children’s assistant Emily Keller.