Let me get this out there: I straight-up love reading. There’s almost nothing I’d rather be doing when I’ve got some downtime. I can be instantly transported into another world, full of thrilling adventures and amazing sites.
Given a chance, most little dudettes and dudes love reading as well, as long as they can find the written words that actually interest them and are on their level — not too hard, not too easy.
The problem is that reading isn’t as easy to do as watch television or play a video game or ride a bike. All of these things simply require either a simple flip of the switch or a decision to go outside. Reading takes more mental effort, in that you can’t simply sit there passively and take in the story like you can television.
However, studies have shown again and again that the more you read, the better is your vocabulary. And the better your vocabulary, the more success you’ll find once you enter the working world, all other things begin equal.
Over at Awesome Elementary School, reading was emphasized more than any other basic skill. The better reader a student is, the better she’ll be at math, or science or social studies. Anything really. If she doesn’t have to work on reading while doing her science homework, she can actually concentrate on the science part, not what the next word means.
Which brings me to summer. See, growing up, I never had this problem. My ideal summer day consisted of waking up in the afternoon, heading out to enjoy the setting summer sun, and just goofing off until after dinner. I’d watch a little tv and then head up to my room, which was where the fun began. I’d haul out the book I was reading and then get started. And I wouldn’t stop. Even when my parents came into my room and turned off the light, I’d get out a flashlight and read under the covers.
I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. I’d read until the early morning hours and then sleep until the afternoon and start the whole cycle over gain.
But I understand that a lot of kids aren’t like that. Which means it’s up to you parents to help set them on the right path.
I seriously advocate that you set aside an hour a day for reading with your child. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, that should be easy. Just do it during the hottest part of the day and you’ll avoid too much sun while also broadening both of your horizons. If you’re working, try to set aside that time with your child during the evening.
Turn off the television and both of you haul out a book. After all, he shouldn’t be the only one having a good time. And, when your child sees you read, they realize that it’s cool to do so. This is the kind of behavior you want to model. You know, rather than showing the kid how to curse when someone cuts you off in traffic.
You also can schedule trips to the local library for more books. Libraries are wonderful. Truly. I mean, you can go in there, wander around all day and find book after book after book that interest you and then — wonder of wonders — the library lets you take them home to enjoy at your leisure. All without paying a single cent.
That is fantastic!
One of my favorite things about the library is that it also has a ton of audiobooks. My middle young dude, Zippy the College Boy, isn’t a big reader, but he loves listening to books. Unfortunately, audiobooks are expensive. Thank goodness for the library, then.
And many libraries have story times during the summer as well. You can bring your little dude and dudette into the library and listen to some pretty fantastic stories in the air conditioning. And leave with even more books.
Reading: not only is it fun, but it’s been shown to prevent brain rot in most little dudes and dudettes. Give it a shot.