We have always participated in the summer reading programs at our local library, the bookstore, and even on-line and I am sure this summer will be no exception. My children enjoy the challenge, the prizes, and though they sometimes complain, they also enjoy the many good books.
A few years ago, I decided to try something a little different for our summer reading. We look back on our summer reading project for that summer with such fondness — we are ready for another go. Whether you are entering summer reading programs with your children or not, you can use this simple idea to make the most of whatever reading you accomplish.
Require your children to write about what they read.
It’s that simple. Now before you get upset and stop reading, or tell me that this takes all the joy out of summer reading, let me tell you that my children enjoyed this summer reading project more then they have enjoyed any before or since that summer.
Keep reading to find out what reeled them in. You don’t have to require your child to write a full page, or even a full paragraph. The amount of writing can be tailored to fit the needs and abilities of your child. You can even allow your children to narrate his work for you to write down if needed.
I bet you are wondering what made this so special for my kids that they still talk about it to this day. Here is what we did. I printed out about 100 pages of generic notebooking pages from notebookingpages.com using the basic set and the floral set. I purchased these sets, but you can instead find free notebooking pages if you prefer. Debra Reed of notebookingpages.com has many free pages on her sight which will allow you to see how much you enjoy using them before you buy her sets or treasury. You can also find free notebooking pages at homeschoolshare.com.
I allowed my children to split these pages up as they saw fit and of course my daughters ended up with most of the pages embellished with flowers or flourishes, and my son chose the more basic or masculine pages. We put a stack of note-booking pages in each of their summer reading 3-ring folders. They had so much fun using these cool pages to write about their books that we still have those little notebooks to this day! We even designed nifty covers for their notebooks using full sheet labels from the office supply store.
All I asked was that each child write five sentences about each book read. At the time my children were just 6 and 8 years old so that was just about right. For my younger daughter who was 4 years old, I simply asked that she draw a picture about each story we read together. I called it Mom’s Book Report Challenge and we even came up with personal goals and rewards. I think we all got to go out to ice cream at the end of summer, which is not something we do often.
This year, I will have a 13 year-old, an 11 year-old, an 8 year-old and a 6 year-old who will participate in this project. I have decided the older children will be asked to write ten sentences. It’s summer school, and I don’t want this to become a burden so we are keeping it simple. I will suggest they write 3-5 sentences of summary, 1-3 sentences of favorites about the book, and 1-3 sentences of things they didn’t like about the book to give them a place to start. We may even spend some time on the first day of our challenge to brainstorm writing formulas so that they can easily come up with ten sentences.
So what’s the point?
- Your children practice summarizing.
- Your children practice planning.
- Your children practice writing.
- Your children practice comprehension skills.
- Your children will remember the books after writing about them.
- Your children will create a special memory book about all of the wonderful books they read.
Using the idea of Mom’s Book Report Challenge is a simple way to keep your child writing and thinking and growing this summer without requiring hours of seat work. With a little bit of planning, you can tailor this idea to fit the needs of each child in your family and make the most of summer reading.