“So, what have you been reading this summer that’s been interesting?” I ask my unsuspecting 12-year-old nephew sitting in the passenger seat of the car. I often start sentences with, “I just read an article that said…” and my children start to roll their pre-teen eyes. But in the car, my nephew has entered my lair and my younger children perk up from the back seat waiting for his answer. No matter who gets in my car this summer, what that person is reading (or wants to read) is very likely going to be one of the major points of conversation. Over the years, I have found that it works especially well with primary school children to get the conversation going.
I LOVE reading, but I know that not all people do—especially in their formative years where there are many more distractions for students both online and outside. And that is precisely why I ask this question as I try to make conversation with whichever young person happens to end up in my passenger seat. Reading is important, if not essential, to growing our minds both literally and figuratively. As summer approaches, engaging in a brief conversation about books with your child may help you learn a lot more than you thought you knew.
Having made an effort this past year to become more aware and mindful of how much time can be spent online for teens, and how it can negatively impact their eyesight, lead to screen addiction, and create a personality most people don’t want to spend time with, now is a good time to set family goals around reading.
As the writer and teacher, John Martin, founder of Boys Read notes, reading “is a skill that has atrophy. The effect is cumulative: the more summers without reading, the wider the gap each year.”
No matter what a student’s interests, reading will fill in the gaps, expand their vocabulary, and perhaps even help with the navigation of these formative years of school, when their emotions are on a perpetual rollercoaster.
What Should Your Child be Reading?
Professor Patrick Sullivan of Manchester Community College in CT, a leading researcher and writer on reading, suggests that: “…choosing what you are interested in is a great way to start. You can read whatever books or articles you want.” For him, the act of reading is more important than the type of reading.
Here are a few ways to help your child look back over their summer and be proud of their accomplishments in reading:
Camping, sleepovers, car rides, lazy days on the beach, by a river or a pool —wherever your child is this summer, make sure they’ve packed something to read! And whoever ends up in your passenger seat, don’t hesitate to ask, “What are you reading this summer?” You just might get more than a teenage grunt or groan…