Reading during the summer
          No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks!

          We sang that on the last day of school about a hundred years ago when I
was in school. I hope that parents won’t let kids take the “no more books”  part
of that seriously any more.

          Summer is a great time to keep up  reading skills and make sure that the
kids don’t lose any of the hard-earned progress gained during the school year.

          Check to see if your local library has an enriching summer reading
program. Many do. A local librarian helped me to understand the hardship that
summer reading lists create for libraries.

          The greatest problem is that parents flock to the library for listed  books,
which are usually in limited supply. They check them out, keep them for as many
as four weeks, and make it difficult for others to get them. In the process, they
ignore many of the other fine books that the libraries have on hand.

          Librarians suggest that you look for the new book shelf. Since most libraries
have limited funds for purchasing books, they do so based on careful
considerations from many sources. The shelf of recently acquired books is, in and
of itself, a suggested reading list.

          Finally, remember that librarians are there to help. They want your children
to tell them about their interests, so that they can suggest appropriate books. 

          It is always best to have kids choose reading on the basis of its being a
good use of time. This is intrinsic motivation. But not all kids work that way; some
of them need a little nudge to get them to read. Just in case your child needs
some extrinsic motivation, see if the successful completion of your library’s
summer reading program will net each child any of the prizes that are
sometimes avaialble, such as free ice cream, pizza, tickets to a baseball game,
and perhaps books. Stop by your branch library to sign up.

          This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacher’s  Advice for Parents.

All columns are copyright © Jay Davidson. Permission is hereby granted for individuals to download and copy them for individual use. There is a modest charge for printing these columns in any publication. To receive that permission, contact Jay Davidson