Dear Readers: Here are the tips I promised about summer reading and reading skills. Studies show that students can actually experience a loss of reading skills unless parents help children sustain reading skills during the summer with reading for fun.
Reading builds visualization, language and thinking skills. It's also important to know that when children read very slowly, a word at a time, they lose their train of thought before they get to the end of a sentence and usually lose comprehension skills. But when children read for fun and pure enjoyment, they read faster; they read an entire phrase at a time, and this improves their comprehension skills.
This summer be sure to give children many opportunities to read for fun and relaxation.
• Read together every day and make it interesting by reading outdoors, not just in the house. Read in the yard or on the porch or at the park or the beach.
• Watch for opportunities to point out new words to children as you do tasks and routines like cooking, driving and shopping.
• Consider making a summer scrapbook with photos, souvenirs and notes your children dictate or write.
• Encourage your child to draw pictures and send notes to friends or relatives.
Here is a list of a few excellent children's books recommended by Lois at Horizon books. Lois has been recommending books to me and my kids and many other Traverse City folks for about 40 years.
Infants and toddlers
Choose some of the terrific picture books on the shelves, but also look at the sturdy "board books" that are custom made so that tiny fingers can turn pages. Try "Time for Bed" by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer (Harcourt), or the lovely book "Jamberry" by Bruce Degen, (Harper Collins). "Barnyard Banter" by Denise Fleming (Henry Holt) is a fabulous book for introducing little ones to funny words and sounds.
3s and 4s
Take a look at "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen, Helen Oxenbury, illustrator. (Simon & Schuster) Be sure you check out "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" by Bell Martin, Louis Elhurt, illustrator. (Simon & Schuster)
Above all don't forget the classics for all young children that you read and loved as a child ... they've stood the test of time; they're going strong and are better than ever. Here's my short list of favorites. (Most are published by the Penguin group.)
• "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel," Virginia Lee Burton, 1939.
• "The Little Engine That Could," by Wally Piper (first published in 1930!).
• "The Story About Ping," Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese (1933).
• "Make Way for Ducklings," by Robert McCloskey, a Caldecott winner in 1941.
• "The Little House" by Virginia Lee Burton, another Caldecott winner in 1942 and very timely for today's changing neighborhoods.
• "Caps for Sale" by Esphyr Slobodkina (1940, Scholastic/Harper Collins), a great book to act out or use on a flannel board.
• "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins," Dr. Seuss' first children's book, 1960.
• "Madeline" by Ludwig Bemelmans, Caldecott winner in 1939 (Viking Press).
• "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats, 1962 Caldecott winner.
Evelyn Petersen is an award-winning parenting columnist and early childhood educator and author who lives in Traverse City; see her website at askevelyn.com.