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Simple clue to boost summer reading: Let children choose the books
Friday, June 21, 2013 12:19 PM

DEFIANCE – As summer vacations tempt the nation's students away from their books, Sylvan Learning centers in the Paulding area are bringing parents some hopeful news: With a little nudge, children do not have to fall victim to summer learning loss.

Research shows that summer months that go by without engaging in learning activities present a real academic risk for school-age children, particularly for those from low-income families. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the National Summer Learning Association found that 77 percent of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that students who participate in a summer learning program are better prepared for school in the fall.

Summer reading is the key to avoiding this learning loss. But when summer fun calls, reading often suffers. According to a new Sylvan Learning survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive among 1,190 youths ages 8-18 from March 14-21, less than half of American youths identify reading as a favorite summer activity.

Playing video games ranked highest as a favorite summer activity among boys (83%), while reading books ranked 6th, with just over one-third (34%) saying this is a favorite thing to do in summer. In contrast, girls are almost twice as likely as boys to report that reading books is a favorite summer pastime (64%), and it ranks 3rd on their list.

That's the bad news. The good news, according to the survey, is that the vast majority of those youths – 94 percent – report that they like reading when they can choose books themselves. And they are also more likely to read when those books align to their interests.

"The overwhelming majority of teachers agree that summer reading is key to overall academic success," said according to Richard E. Bavaria, Ph.D., senior vice president of education outreach for Sylvan Learning. "Summer does not have to be a time when children lose important reading skills. Research indicates that children will read when they choose books themselves.”

To help kick-start a summer of reading adventure, Sylvan Learning centers located in the Paulding area are offering five simple tips for students and parents.

• Browse your community library: More than 90 percent of students of all ages agree that they like reading books they choose themselves. Visit your library with your child and show them how to locate the books that they want to read.

• Combine other favorite activities with reading: Do you drive your children to the pool on a regular basis? Make a stop at the library a

regular part of your pool routine and check out a book, either for poolside reading or to unwind with after a day of physical activity.

• Negotiate a reward: Put a value on reading by rewarding it. Work with your child to create a reading goal; for example, reading for a certain length of time every day or reading a certain number of books. Let them choose the books and the reward so they can "earn and learn.”

• Get an e-book reader. Children love devices. With many e-book readers now available at well under $100, and e-books available at prices

comparable to or less than hard-copy books, it may be worth it to invest in technology that today's digital natives prefer. Moreover, thousands of e-books either can be downloaded free or "borrowed" at no charge from local libraries.

• Use those movie-book tie-ins: When film companies base a movie on a book, they also make sure to publish a new "tie-in" edition of that book with a movie scene on the cover. Linking a book to a movie also makes your job easier. Show children how they can enjoy their favorite on-screen stories by reading as well as watching.