We went to the library and I let the kids sign up for summer reading last week. I also made them pick mounds and mounds of books. Nearly everything they picked was below their reading level. We now have tons of Tintin, Lunch Lady, Stone Rabbit, Araminta Spookie and even an A to Z Mysteries title, which is a series BalletBoy first read part of nearly two years ago. The one challenge was that Mushroom picked up the first Spiderwick book, which is probably right at his reading level or a slight stretch.
Come fall we’ll start doing a little bit of required reading along with self-selected reading, so I’m not worried. Also, I’m mindful of the need to practice and build fluency. Plus, there’s all that evidence that letting kids self-select books for summer reading helps a lot more than providing them with quality literature. Take that, twaddle-callers.
I’m not usually for rewards programs, but as I’ve said before, I’m not going to prevent my kids from participating in them. Last year, the library’s reward for summer reading was free donuts from a chain donut store if you read at least an hour. This year, there are apparently cheapie prizes for reading for three hours and if you read for eight hours then you’ll get entered into a contest to win a free e-reader. It’s like winning a bill for more books.
The kids came home so fired up to read that they proceeded to read for a shocking three and a half hours in the twenty-four hours following signing up. They do read for pleasure almost daily, but it tends to be more in the half hour to an hour at most range. And maybe that Spiderwick book wasn’t much of a stretch for Mushroom, as he read nearly the whole thing in one day, along with several graphic novels.
Sigh. Kids, you’re proving the reward givers right. Cut it out.
Summer reading time! The hilarious part of this is that what we’re doing for “summer reading” is pretty much the exact same thing we do all the time. We check out books and write down what we read in reading journals. I wish I could have grown up like that. I don’t remember there being “summer reading” when I was kid, but I do remember that I got to read more in the summer because teachers weren’t forever taking my books away or giving me worksheets that interfered with my reading time. However, I just told them it was “summer reading” and the kids got excited. Maybe all some projects need is a catchy title.
This year, the library didn’t issue the kids cute stationary to record all the books they read, so I made some and they immediately dove in. I was especially excited that Mushroom pulled out a book from his pile on the first day after we got them from the library. He’s my slower to read kid but I think he’s going to turn out to be my lifelong reader.
Another cool change to this year’s library program is that they’ve asked the kids to make their own goals with reading. If they meet their goals, then they can come get a little prize from the treasure chest. I’m all about goal setting. We do goal setting every two months when we update homeschool portfolios. The kids have to set their own goals, and while the goals often revolve around achieving a certain score on some Wii game, they also usually throw something really academic and often unexpected to me in there. Then they take it pretty seriously. They take everything about portfolios pretty seriously though.
I have more mixed feelings about the whole rewards issue – probably too many to put in a quick post about summer reading. I try to avoid them myself, but I don’t have a strong problem with other people giving them to my kids. Still, I didn’t tell them about any of the summer reading programs offered by Pizza Hut or Barnes and Noble or anywhere else. If the little rubber ducks and bracelets offered by the DC Library are enough, then I’m not questioning that.