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Far too many children within the U.S. and abroad live in homes with little or no access to books. Among other things, no access means no reading materials for the summer months. Grass roots efforts like summer reading bags and neighborhood book swaps, public libraries, and organizations such as First Book (opens in a new window) and Book Ends (opens in a new window) in Southern California all operate with a goal to increase access to reading material for kids in need. David Bornstein quoted Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, as writing “simply providing access is the first and most important step in encouraging literacy development.”

If access to books is the first step, parent education and a child’s motivation must be steps two and three (and I’m not sure of the order!). Once we’re able to get books into the hands of young readers, we need to:

  • Make sure parents understand some basics about reading with kids. For example, parents should feel comfortable letting a child to reread a book several times. I’ve had parents tell me they think it’s “cheating” for their child to reread a book they already know how to read. There are lots of tips for parents out there.
  • Encourage parents to talk about the book before, during and after they’re reading and how to make the most out of the interesting words within books
  • Make reading a priority every day. It’s not a choice between TV and a book. It’s a book, and then see what happens!
  • Mix it up! Let’s encourage kids to read widely this summer.
    Share lots of different kinds, or genre, of books with our readers to expose them to different words, different pictures, and whole new worlds. Mixing it up is sure to spark new motivation in your reader.

Summer officially started at our house today — here’s to lazy, hot days with a good book for all kids!

About the Author

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Publication Date
June 10, 2011