Read about nine tips for creating literacy-rich environments at home during the summer, or any time of year! Teachers can support parents by educating them on how to incorporate reading and writing in enjoyable ways.
The summer slide. Shudder. No one really likes to think about school during an extended break, but it’s critical that parents create literacy-rich environments at home over the summer. Why?
Literacy-rich environments emphasize the importance of speaking, listening, reading, and writing in real life. Modern research clearly links literacy proficiency, growth, and success with high-volume, high-interest experiences. Just reading for twenty minutes each day in the present increases a child’s chance of educational success in the future. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reports:
Reading is the single most important skill necessary for a happy, productive and successful life. A child that is an excellent reader is a confident child, has a high level of self esteem and is able to easily make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn.
Reading at home and out loud is important for middle and high school students as well. Educator Jim Trelease, author of Read-Aloud Handbook, explains that reading out loud to older students increases their attention span, their listening comprehension ability, and their interest in books. Further, reading together provides an avenue to talk about issues older students encounter in life but often don’t know how to handle.
Parents don’t have to read aloud to older children every day, but these children do need to engage in literacy activities regularly over the summer. The U.S. Department of Education has reported that when students read for fun on their own time, they have higher reading scores than their peers who don’t engage in literacy activities outside of school.
Due to the limited amount of time teachers see students each day, the primary responsibility for literacy exposure occurs at home. Teachers can partner with parents in educating them and empowering them to do just that. But how? For some parents, creating an atmosphere conducive to literacy is second-nature. Others need some ideas, and teachers can provide those.
Parents can create literacy-rich environments over the summer (and all year long!) and help their children retain achievement gains by implementing some of these tips, just to name a few.
My daughters fortunately love reading. It starts with my husband and I. We model reading every day. We are very fortunate that our local college has a great summer program for pre-school students, so we participate in the program once a week. ~ Doc Cop
Enroll in a Reading Program
This summer, we joined a program at our local library to read 1,000 books by kindergarten! They gave us a special sheet to fill out with our book titles, and after every 100 books we read together, we turn it in at the library, and they move my daughter’s race car on the display board closer to 1,000. She also gets a prize after every 100 books completed, followed by a grand prize when we reach 1,000. We just started last week, and I’m already surprised at how many MORE books she wants to read every day! She is so excited to “win the race” on the board at the library! I like to read Dr. Seuss with her because the language is so much fun, and I also love reading Peppa Pig and trying to do my best British accent 🙂 It makes for A LOT of giggles! ~ Meredith from Bespoke ELA
Make Books Accessible
We keep our books out on a bookshelf in our living room. This way they are always viable to children looking for something to do and never a hassle to get to. I also encourage my two-and-a-half year old to “read” to my 11-month-old. She loves being “big” enough to do this, and it encourages literacy in both of them. ~ Rebecca Gettelman
Listen to Audiobooks
My own kids are 10 and 8. Fortunately, they love to read – we’ve read to them ever since they were babies. We’re also lucky that we live two blocks from our amazing local library. We carve out moments during the day when we’re all reading together. We also love audio books. We can get them free from Overdrive by using our library card. Instead of turning on the TV, we listen to books…it’s amazing at how much fun we have doing this together. We also choose a novel or two (or a series) to read aloud together over the summer. We’ve tackled Percy Jackson, the Chronicles of Narnia, and I think will dive in to Harry Potter this summer. Sharing good literature together is a gift and really inspires my kids to read. ~ Leslie from Story Trekker
Help Kids Find a Favorite Series
I try to read with each of my children, even the older ones who can read alone. My ten-year-old and I are reading the Harry Potter series this summer – or at least what we can finish. My eight-year-old and I read Junie B. as well as books she finds at the library. My four-year-old and I normally read Pinkalicious, her favorite. To create a literary-rich environment, we have books in every room in the house, even the kitchen! We also join our local library’s summer reading program and participate in Barnes and Noble’s program. ~ Lauralee from Language Arts Classroom
Make it a Game
My son is two years old and loves to be read to! We have already amassed 100+ books for our home library thanks to family and friends. We store most in his bookcase in his room and the rest in a basket in the living room for easy accessibility. He usually requests to read 3-4 books twice a day. In the afternoon when he needs a little break, we sit and enjoy some of our favorites, and we always read before bed as part of our nighttime routine. Currently Go Dog Go – a Dr. Seuss book – is our favorite. He “reads” some of the key words on each page with me and loves yelling STOP and GO when he gets to the appropriate pages. ~ Amanda from Free to Discover
Introduce Literacy Concepts
My oldest is just four, so we’re still working on teaching them to recognize letters and words. There are many trips to the library and we always read a handful of books before bed. My four-year-old just discovered The Lorax, so I think it’s going to be a Dr. Seuss themed summer. I can’t wait! ~ Amanda from Engaging and Effective
My children enjoy reading, but like many other kids, they’d rather watch television. In order to make reading and literacy more engaging for them this summer, I started using a reward chart. Each day, we complete several activities from their summer activity books (we use Weekly Reader and Summer Bridge Activities), and we read for about twenty minutes. When we are finished, they get to select stickers to put on the pages they completed as well as on their chart. After they complete a week’s worth of summer literacy activities, we do something fun (a trip to Barnes ‘n Noble, to the local waterpark, or to a movie at the theater). I really think it’s important to consider where your child’s current feelings about literacy lie, and meet them where they are to try to make it an engaging, enjoyable experience. ~ Melissa from Reading and Writing Haven
Take it to the Local Shelter
I don’t have children, but I volunteer at the local animal shelter and we read to the dogs and cats. It helps keep them engaged and calms them in their kennels. ~ Laugh & Learn with Lindsay
Lindsay’s idea got me thinking…many children would love going to an animal shelter and reading to the pets. There are so many ways to make reading and writing enjoyable for children of all ages.
My five and three year old absolutely love it when we read our National Geographic for Kids book and then hop in a boat (on our couch) and pretend to travel to that place. When we arrive, we get out and swim (on the carpet), sightsee, and look for animals we read about in the book. We talk about the biome, including animals and plants. My kids ask questions naturally as we play this game, so I look the information up on the spot. I love that they are learning about research at such a young age.
Why does this crazy game work for us? My son is infatuated with animals and using his imagination. Considering the interests of our children is of the upmost importance when creating a literacy-rich environment. When planning literacy activities for your household, reflect on your kids’ talents and gifts. Figure out ways to tap into those, and you’ll have much more success.
How do you create an atmosphere that supports literacy over the summer? Please share your ideas with us in the comments!
This post is the first of an inspirational collaborative series for teachers. The entire series includes:
- In Defense of Teachers: Do We Really Have Our Summers Off?
- Top 10 List: The Craziest Thing Happened in the Classroom Today…
- Our Favorite Decor for the Secondary Classroom
- Must-Try Organizational Tools and Classroom Procedures
- How to Rejuvenate Over the Summer
- Summer Reading Recommendations for Teachers
- Creating Literacy-Rich Environments all Summer Long
- Be Inspired: Favorite Quotes for Teachers