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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.

Exercise your imagination

June 2, 2010

It is official: summer has started, at least unofficially.

And with it comes the talk of the summer learning loss. But a video message from author Mary Amato makes a case that summer is a great time for kids to exercise their imaginations. They'll have fun and likely avoid losing reading skills.

How? Reading and writing!

What? Books, songs, plays — wherever and whatever the imagination fancies.

Where? Almost any where, any time. Books are still portable. So are paper and writing instruments.

So, begin exercising the imagination with some lighthearted books such as the Riot Brothers series by Mary Amato. This series is just that, too — a riot. In Take the Mummy and Run: The Riot Brothers Are on a Roll (Holiday), Orville and Wilbur Riot must entertain a girl relative but find that the summer isn't all bad with this adventurous cousin.

The characters in Mary's book, Please Write in this Book (Holiday), not only write in a class journal, they learn a lot about themselves and each other. Even though this book is set in a classroom, it is fun and funny and readers may just see themselves in it or even become inspired to create a journal of their own.

Pictures from Our Summer Vacation by Lynne Rae Perkins (Greenwillow) may inspire another kind of journaling — with photographs of a trip or other summer goings-on.

Young artists may want to describe their friends, schools, and more in unique collage portraits just like the young narrator does in My Best Friend Is as Sharp as a Pencil (and other titles) by Hanoch Piven (Schwartz & Wade).

There are lots of ways to exercise one's imagination — and it often starts with opening a book.


These are great tips for encouraging summer learning and making it fun. I hope to share ideas like this with parents of my students when I become a teacher.

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"There is no frigate like a book, to take us lands away" — Emily Dickinson