Summer can provide the time to read that lots of kids need to strengthen skills. But summer also offers other warm-weather distractions that have more kid appeal than books.
William Weil, Co-Founder and CEO of Tales2go, an award-winning kids’ mobile audiobook service, shares his ideas for building reading comprehension skills and engaging young readers and families in summer reading and learning adventures. Listen up!
Most parents and teachers know that the summer slide phenomenon is real. They also know that while on summer break, picking up a book is not a high priority for most students. Between wanting to play video games, stay up late, play outside, watch movies or go swimming, it’s a long shot to get them to read or even listen for the recommended 20 minutes per day … or is it?
If the goal is to improve reading comprehension skills, and ready access to high quality books is limited, where can parents turn to engage reluctant summer readers? Audiobooks to the rescue!
Children, and adults for that matter, enjoy being told a good story. And recent research shows that listening to audiobooks favorably impacts vocabulary, reading comprehension and motivation to read. Listening to a book effectively removes the burden of decoding difficult text, thereby granting greater access to complex words, which students need to know, including their context and fluent pronunciation. This increased access also enables a student to better comprehend the overall story.
As an aside, this is not to knock the value of ‘pairing’ (i.e., tracking words while listening), but to point out ‘just listening’ is equally valid as an instructional technique, engaging deep limbic parts of the brain which are responsible for storing memories and word knowledge.
Summer presents an excellent time for kids to use audiobooks because:
- Children love listening to a good story, well-told
- Students can understand stories at a higher level than they can read
- Professional narrators bring a story alive
- Access is simple
- The variety of titles available is appealing and engaging
We created a collection of titles and simple activities to complement some of Reading Rockets’ Start with a Book summer learning themes .
- Chart the daily weather (temperature, clouds, precipitation, etc.)
- Keep a cloud journal
- Listen to the weather (wind, rain, thunder) and write a poem about weather sounds
Folktales, Fairy Tales, Myths
- Perform a skit or play after listening (dress up like the character!)
- Write a unique fairy tale with the same main character
- Build a castle or fort out of chairs/blankets, etc. for story time listening
- Imagine the sounds dinosaurs made and create and record your own dinosaur sound effects
- Make dinosaur tracks by painting on the bottom of plastic flip flops and putting down a long roll of paper
- Shape dinosaurs out of clay
Nature: Our Green World
- Take your listening outside and enjoy an audiobook in the back yard or park
- Make a usable item (toy, clothing, etc.) out of recycled materials
- Visit a local garden or arboretum and sketch some of the flowers, trees and plants you see