What better way to end May, the “Tribute to Education” month than by talking about the wonderful skill of reading.
As with any other skill, the best way to improve your reading is to simply do it each and every day. No matter your age, frequent and consistent reading leads to improved vocabulary, a sharper mind, increased exposure to different ideas, cultures, and situations as well as better communication.
When my kids were growing up, and school was out for the summer, I initiated “Payzant Summer School.” Soon after regular school let out for the three month vacation, me and the kids would sit down and decide what school topics they wanted to focus on and improve. Things like handwriting, science, paragraphs, cooking, math problems, etc. To keep them on track, each child picked out their future “reward” for successful completion ahead of time. I would purchase their prize at the beginning of summer so they knew that I had it, and at the end of the break, when they met all of their agreed upon goals, the reward was theirs. You would think that they would have complained, but actually they didn’t have a problem with our family summer school. It gave them something to do to fight against boredom on most week days and as they achieved their goals, they knew they had their hand-picked, end of summer prize to look forward to. Pretty clever way, I thought, to keep the kids busy and engaged in meaningful activities.
In addition to the structured “summer school” work, each child was also expected to spend part of their day reading a book of their choice. When they finished the book, they had to make some kind of report of what they read to the rest of the family. This served a couple of purposes: 1) I found out if they really read the book or not, 2) It helped them to remember and recall important aspects of their story, stimulating vital brain processes and 3) They were learning how to incorporate a lifelong skill into daily life. Of course, all of this works better if the reading skill is being modeled by a trusting adult. No problem there at this house. I loved another excuse to set aside some reading time for me too during the more open-ended summer months.
It is no secret that reading is one of my passions. I read different genres all year long. But summertime, with vacations and longer days, allows more down time spent on uninterrupted reading. Long car rides, delays in air travel, lounging out by the pool, winding down after a busy day — the perfect opportunities for practicing one’s reading skills.
I recently purchased a virtual reader and I am busy planning what I am going to stuff it with for my next big trip. I have already decided to start off with one of my favorite authors, Maeve Binchy’s latest book, A Week in Summer and a more serious title, Your Teacher Said What?! Defending our Kids From the Liberal Assault on Capitalism by Joe Kernen. (I told you I read all kinds of eclectic stuff). The second book I heard about on a radio talk show and it fascinated me. If I like it as much as I expect to, I plan on getting copies to give for gifts.
Now, those are just a start. My Good Reads list contains more exciting titles for my other trips in July and August. Choosing a good read is half the fun, what with all the possibilities out there. What do you have on your list to practice your reading skills this summer? Please share.
I love getting new recommendations to add to my list of “gotta reads.”
Happy Summer Reading to all!!!