Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Train Up Tuesday: Summer Reading for and with Your Kids

The “official” date for summer is still a couple weeks away, but unofficially, it’s probably already summer for you. Many kids are out of school and family vacations are well underway! Summer is a favorite time for reading - extended vacation times, special library or other incentive programs (more on that later this month), and a desire to nurture little brains so they don’t turn to mush being out of the school routine. :)

Thanks to those who have contributed to our lists of suggested books! This week, we offer reading for children.

First, I’ll share a few favorite series:
  • Anything by Eric Carle. Your child probably already recognizes his work, even if you aren’t familiar with his name. His illustrations/art is spectacular. You may be most familiar with “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. Here is a list of his work. My oldest really likes “Pancake Pancake” while my youngest really enjoys “10 Little Rubber Ducks”. Other than his use of color, the thing I really like about his books is that they are available in easy reader, large versions and also small, board book versions that are splendid for toddlers. You’ll also want to check out The Caterpillar Exchange, which provides some great activities and crafts suggested and tried by teachers, librarians, and other learning enthusiasts.
  • Charlie & Lola by Lauren Child (who also wrote the “Clarice Bean” series). You may recognize these characters if you have the Disney Channel. We were introduced to these characters in this way, but now we go after the books instead! They are so fun to read (especially if you use a British accent, as the characters do) :) Our favorites are probably “I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato” (great for those of us with picky eaters), and “Snow is My Favorite and My Best”...though, to be honest, it is difficult to narrow our favorites down to two in this series. The illustrations are also great and the stories sound like dialogue you may actually hear from your little ones.
  • Clifford (as in the “big red dog”) by Norman Bridwell - this suggestion was given by a young teacher who works with young children. I checked out a few recently for my boys. They recognized the lead character from the PBS tv series. The plus about reading a series with a tv adaptation is that you can find great supplemental activities online, too! I’m always up for activities that help to make any learning experience a multi-sensory one. Check out PBS's site as well as Scholastic's for great ideas.
  • Curious George. Although this character has become wildly popular due to recent movies, tv shows and merchandising, it all began with simple books written by Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey. Because George is curious, reading these books provides great opportunities to talk about figuring things out....something you can do with your child. The PBS show’s site also provides great science based activities in the way of videos launched by the show episodes. There are also games, printables, and even lesson plans (under the “teachers” tab) to enhance learning experiences.
  • Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner is a series introduced to me by another library-loving mother. The character is quite hilarious - a Siamese kitten with huge ears, thus convincing him that he is actually a Chihuahua (yep, another accent, which I so enjoy using when reading aloud!). The Skippyjon Jones website also has printables, a curriculum connections guide to ALL of the books, English/Spanish activities, as well as many other things you can do while reading these books.

Other reading:

There are so many other suggestions for reading! I would encourage you to start with something they are already interested in. Perhaps it’s trains, fairy tales, or another country. Often, libraries already have a list of suggested reading for popular topics on hand. Be sure to ask!

Also, maybe your child really loves a particular movie (classic or new) that is based on a novel or series. Consider undertaking the task of reading the actual book to them; they will already be familiar with characters, even if the story is different from the movie (and it likely will be). It could be anything from Roald Dahl’s "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" or Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" made popular by recent films to classics like the Mary Poppins series by P.L. Travers or "Where the Red Fern Grows" by Wilson Rawls made popular by some older films.

Although I listed quite a few books made popular by television or film, I don’t want to skip over classic good books. Classical education is strong in this area (reading beyond textbooks and novel excerpts). Here is a list of 1000 Good Books for primary readers which covers just about anything you can imagine (from picture books to advanced primary readers)! Also, for the older child (teens), here are lists of 100 Great Books, covering everything from Ancient & Classical to the American and Modern (and everything in between).

Well, this is just some of what you’ve suggested or what I’ve come across recently. Have you found any good lists or favorite books? Or perhaps you have links to some creative reading enhancement activities. Please share them with us!


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