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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

The unofficial start of summer

May 22, 2008

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. It's got a serious side that should not be forgotten: to honor those who have died in service to our country.

But the start of summer represents another important period — when children's learning begins to drop off .

Making books and reading an important part of children's summer activities can prevent reading loss — and may even improve it.

Libraries are a great place to start. They're likely to have a summer reading program — and the materials to support it.

If your child is going to camp, find out if books and reading are built into the schedule — no matter what the camp's focus is. From general to specialized, books fit well into daily activities — even if the camp is in your own backyard.

It's always fun to read about this season and its special goings-on.

I like the humor in A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever and the wild ride on a Roller Coaster (both Harcourt and both by Marla Frazee).

There's humor in the old camp songs that are probably still sung, vibrantly illustrated by Frane Lessac in Camp Granada: Sing-Along Camp Songs (Holt).

And there are sweet memories of summers past in books like Donald Crews' Bigmama's and Shortcut (both Greenwillow) in which the author/illustrator recalls summer visits (and adventures) to his grandparents' Florida home. Lynne Rae Perkins evokes equally warm memories from a very different time in Pictures from Our Vacation (Greenwillow).

No matter where children spend their summer, here's hoping books and reading are a part of it!

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"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables