Bad Books Make Good Reading
Why am I advocating bad books? Summer is almost here and the research is clear — kids who take a vacation from reading experience the summer slide, resulting in the fall fade-out. When kids who slacked off go back to school, they won't be reading as well as they did at the end of the school year.
The good news is that the slide can be prevented by having kids read four or more books during the summer. And reading "bad" books can provide the incentive and motivation to keep kids reading. Let me be clear in that I do not want kids to read anything inappropriate or really bad. I do want to let them read books, though, that would normally not be assigned as homework — books such as the beach books, chick and lad lit, and how-to books that we will be picking up for ourselves when we head out for vacation.
In 2006, Scholastic and Yankelovich did a study, The Kids and Family Reading Report, and found that the amount of reading kids did for fun decreased from the time they were 8 through the teen years. Kids said the number-one reason for not reading more was that they couldn't find books that interested them. The study also revealed that kids look to their parents for ideas on what to read.
Here are five ways to get kids reading four or more books:
- Get comical: A new generation of graphic novels are getting today's kids to read. Comic books are coming back in a big way. The state school superintendent for Maryland, Nancy S. Grasmick, is adding graphic novels and comics strips to the curriculum in addition to the regular reading program. Some of us met the classics through the comics and they motivated us to read the real books.
- Find a series: Remember Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Babysitter's Club, Goosebumps, and so on? The great thing about getting kids hooked on a series is that they really can't read just one and it makes choosing the next book to read easy. Mysteries, suspense, horror (a little goes a long way), fantasy, and romance (as age-appropriate) are genres that attract many kids. Also, many young readers prefer non-fiction, like biographies. So help your child make a book match!
- Learn how to: Kids really like to do things that end up in a finished product or with a new skill. Many kids play computer games, so offer special-interest game magazines to help them find strategies for improvement. Summer is also a great time for arts and crafts so find books for making model airplanes, cooking a meal, or any topic that holds their interest.
- Yuck it up: Humor is good for reading and having a good laugh, too. Joke books and really silly stories are fun to read and having a sense of humor helps kids have a good time at whatever they are doing.
- Think outside the book: Reading on kid-friendly social networking sites, playing word games, and subscribing to magazines are fun ways to keep reading fresh. Just be sure kids are doing enough of it to equal a book.
Here's another reason to keep kids reading: the volume of reading accomplished has a direct and positive impact on reading fluency, vocabulary development and establishing the reading habit. As kids' competence and confidence grows, so will their interest in reading for pleasure, including "good books." For tons of reading suggestions and motivators, don't miss the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge. Happy reading!