This week, May 13-19, 2013, is Children’s Book Week. Every year, commemorative events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, homes -- wherever young readers and books connect! To learn more, visit the Children’s Book Council (CBC) website.
Children's Book Week originated in the belief that children's books and literacy are life-changers. In 1913, Franklin K. Matthiews, the librarian of the Boy Scouts of America, proposed creating a Children's Book Week, which would be supported by all interested groups: publishers, booksellers, and librarians. children’s Book Week was established in 1919 and is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country.
With the end of the school year coming very close, it’s also time to start thinking about how to keep kids reading during the summer. Here are some ideas to get kids excited about summer reading.
--Libraries across the country are sponsoring summer reading programs. Get the kids to your local library to sign up! Libraries offer different kinds of incentives for kids who read during the summer, from prizes for books read each week to story times, field trips or author visits. Many libraries also offer reading programs for adults which coincides with the children’s program. Kids learn from the example of adults, so make summer reading a family affair and sign up!
--Set a special time for reading each day. Read in the middle of the day for some downtime, or for a set time before bed. Let them choose which books to read. Read out loud to younger children. If you have an older child whose interest is beyond their reading level, choose appropriate books and read out loud to them, too. It gives them motivation to read those books, and others, on their own.
--Choose a different location to read. Make a special reading corner in your house. Set up a backyard tent, or go to a park. Combine reading with a picnic. If the weather’s not cooperative, set up your ‘outdoor’ setting indoors.
--Do an activity that goes along with the book. If your story has characters roasting hot dogs over a campfire, make a campfire and roast hot dogs. If your book is set in Mexico, play some Mexican music or try some Mexican food. If it’s a book about cowboys or pirates, dress the part. If your book features a beautiful sunrise, get up early and watch the sun rise. Color a picture or do a craft that fits the theme of your book. If your book has an elephant in it, go to the zoo to see the elephants.
--Have your young readers use their creative juices to write a different ending to the book. With my picture book, Turkey Surprise, I sometimes ask kids to think about how the story might change if the little pilgrim brother just refused to hunt for a turkey. Would the big brother go on the hunt alone? How would that change the story? Or what if the brothers went on the hunt together and caught the turkey? How would the turkey get out of becoming Thanksgiving dinner?
There are more great ideas and resources to be found online. Check out Reading Rockets, or the KPIRC website.
Whatever you do this summer, be sure to make reading part of it!