Tag Archives: reading

Summer Reading

As our children have gotten older their love of reading has grown. Back in January I chose the book Holes, by Louis Sachar for our 6th grader to read. He complained about it a bit, but once he got a few chapters into it he seemed to enjoy the story and finished it in just a few weeks.

At the beginning of each summer I carefully select 6-8 books of various genres that are at or a little above their reading level and let them choose two to read over the summer. For our daughter, who will be entering 4th grade, I gathered books like Pippi Longstocking, The Baby-Sitters Club Mysteries, Ten Kids, No Pets, the Mandie series, and the Animal Ark series. Well she was having nothing to do with the books I had chosen and told me they were all too boring. She wanted something with more adventure off her brother’s bookcase. After browsing his shelves for just a few minutes she quickly chose Ferals, by Jacob Grey. While this book is a little dark for her age-wise, it is at her reading level and is full of adventure so hopefully she’ll love it.

For our soon to be 7th grader I chose Where the Red Fern Grows to be his mandatory summer reading book, and then he chose One Eyed Cat, by Paula Fox from a selection of books I had chosen. Our son has been stuck on reading The Warrior series, by Erin Hunter, and anything about Greek Mythology or Percy Jackson for the past year. I’m quite happy to have him branching out and reading a few different things between the other books he loves.

Did you miss my previous post on Encouraging Summer Reading?

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Posted by on May 30, 2017 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling


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School During the Summer?

Whether you choose to do year-round schooling or not, sometimes it’s nice to go at a different pace for the summer months. There are many different ways for children to continue learning over the summer without even calling it “school”.

Summer Projects:

Teach your child how to code! They’ll have a blast learning how since it’s more like playing a game than “learning”, plus it never hurts to know more about computer programming.
Our favorite websites for learning to code are: Scratch and  These are geared towards all ages, so even adults can practice and learn how to code quickly. There are examples and an assortment of projects for all levels, so the challenge never ends.

2015-12-29 10.50.08  2015-12-29 11.35.30

Work on science projects, science experiments, engineering skills, life skills (lawn care, cooking, automotive care, etc.). The list is limited to only what you can imagine.

Here are some links you may find helpful.

Engineering Ideas

Science Experiements

History & Geography Projects

Summer Camps:

Music camps, art camps, science camps, sports camps, theater, dance, and gymnastic camps, and so on. For those living in the Mobile area the possibilities are endless. Check out MobileBay Parents for a list of available camps.

summer reading 5thgradeSummer Reading:

We can’t forget about summer reading! Our children are both pretty good about reading daily, but for the summer I try to make sure they expand their interests a bit more and try other things.

Here are some of the books we’re reading this summer. The Greek Gods book I’m reading aloud to them and the I Love People is a writing/thinking book I have both children working through together.

There are many Summer Reading programs available to help encourage your children as well. The Mobile Public Library has a great one, plus there’s the one from Barnes & Noble where your child can earn a free book.

Summer Schedule:

A typical week-day in the summer when we’re at home looks like this:

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This is a simple checklist I use to make sure we stay on track.

  • Wake up (typically 7 – 8am)
  • Listen to music, read, draw, or play in their rooms
  • 9am Read with Mom (I read, they listen, we ask questions and discuss after each chapter)
  • Get dressed, eat breakfast
  • Morning chore
  • Play outside
  • Write & Draw/practice Cursive (twice a week)
  • Math/Language Arts (twice a week)
  • Social Studies/Science (twice a week)
  • Eat lunch
  • Electronics time (I break up the electronic time into 1 hour segments)
  • Art
  • Read Aloud
  • Outside chores
  • Play a board game/card game
  • Silent reading
  • Electronics time
  • Play with Legos
  • Afternoon chore

On the days when we have VBS, music camp, martial arts camp, etc. our typical day looks like this:

  • Wake up (typically 7am)
  • Get dressed, eat breakfast
  • Morning chore
  • ———-> summer movie, visit the park, VBS, etc.
  • Play outside
  • Outside chores
  • Silent reading
  • Afternoon chore
  • Read with Mom
  • Electronics time (typically this is right before dinner)

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Encouraging Summer Reading

summer readingDon’t let reading stop just because it’s summer time. Here are some great ways to encourage reading:

  • Keep books easily accessible to your children. Put some on a bedside table or on a low, reachable shelf.
  • Take your children to the library frequently.
  • Visit a bookstore (or browse an online bookstore) together. Ask your children which books look interesting to them.
  • Don’t worry if your child only wants to read comic books, or books about a specific topic. Let them choose the books and they’ll be more enthusiastic about reading.
  • Consider e-books or audio books as well. Some children do better with listening to a book, and then gradually will become more interested in reading.
  • Surprise your children with a couple of books they would be interested in. Even better, have them shipped to your house with your child’s name on the package. All ages enjoy getting surprise packages in the mail.

nonfiction books

Have 5th grade or older children? Select 2-3 books you want them to read over the summer in addition to the books they want to read. Don’t forget to include both fiction and non-fiction. Maybe a biography and some poetry for example. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get a child to read a topic they aren’t interested in. Don’t give up though. Simply give calm encouragement and bribe them. “Bribe them to read?!!” Yes. It’s easy and there are no downfalls (except maybe for your pocketbook.)


reading rewardsGive small rewards for finishing each book. Inexpensive things like notebooks, colorful tape, special pens, small toys, etc. Most of the rewards we use come from the $1 section at Target or were found on clearance. For older children you can use rewards like a trip for frozen yogurt, a movie rental, iTunes song, etc. As long as the reward comes quickly after they finish their book (immediately for younger children) and within 48hrs if possible for older children it doesn’t really matter what you use. Just choose something you know your child really wants. I try to stick to the $1 – $2 range for a single book and $5 – $6 range for 6 books (for my older child). Adjust this however you need for your children and their reading needs. Reluctant readers do better with a reward after every book.

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Graphic Novels for Reluctant Readers

ninjago insideMany children are intimidated at the thought of reading a chapter book, or any book with more text per page. Being a reluctant reader does NOT mean they aren’t good at reading. It may be something as simple as finding a subject matter to grab their attention. For others it might be they are shy about reading aloud.

Regardless of the reason, I highly recommend trying a couple of graphic novels.

Definition from Wikipedia:

graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. Although the word “novel” normally refers to long fictional works, the term “graphic novel” is applied broadly, and includes fiction, non-fiction, and anthologized work. It is distinguished from the term “comic book”, which is used for comics periodicals.

Our 3rd grader has been enjoying a mixture of graphic novels along with traditional books since the end of first grade. While some teachers and parents may frown at the idea of letting children read graphic novels, we think they are GREAT!

Below are some of my children’s favorite graphic novels. Click on a photo to purchase through Amazon. You may be able to find some of these at your local library as well.

lightning thief  warriors

ninjago  boxcarchildren

trojan horse  starwars

black beauty  owly

bone  binky

Another great thing about these graphic novels is many of them are part of a series. Find one your child likes? Let them read the others in the series!

Looking for more tips for a reluctant reader? Read my previous post “Getting Your Child to Want to Read”.

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Posted by on October 26, 2013 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling


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Getting Your Child to WANT to Read

Getting children excited about reading isn’t always easy.  More often than not there will be groaning and whining when you ask them to read a book.  Here are some tips to help you encourage your children to read.

luke 8yrs reading

Our 8yr old during quiet reading time.

Set aside a specific time each day for quiet reading.  It doesn’t have to be a long time, just 10-20 minutes for young children, perhaps 30-40 minutes for older children.  Be sure to set a timer, but if one of your children wants to keep reading, by all means let them!  Try to have quiet reading time in the family room. This way it’s more of a family event and they can see you are reading a book (or magazine or newspaper) as well. If your child isn’t reading yet, they can look at a picture book and practice turning the pages from left to right.  You could also grab a book and read it aloud to them while any older siblings are reading to themselves.

Be excited about reading yourself!  Children catch on to excitement coming from their parents.  If you love to read and are seen often with a book in your hands then chances are much higher your children will also enjoy reading.

books luke can read

Example of easy readers geared towards late Kindergarten – early 1st Grade

Buy them age appropriate books.  This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised by the number of children who don’t own any books geared towards their age or interest.  Is your child into airplanes, cats or astronomy?  Do they like mysteries, riddles, or ninjas?  Don’t forget about graphic novels, because comic books count as books too!  Browse the books on or at your local bookstore to see what is available for your child’s age-range and interests.  Books make great birthday and Christmas presents and most children have plenty of toys and gadgets already.

Take your children to the library often.  No matter how young your child is, PLEASE take them to the library.  The library is a fascinating world full of books, magazines, audio books, DVDs and more.  Most children love going, they just need a parent to be willing to take them.  If you’re worried about your young child being too loud or disruptive, have them carry a toy and remind them BEFORE you enter the library that only whispers or very soft voices are used in the library.

Take turns reading aloud.  Some children feel really overwhelmed when it comes to attempting to read a book.  Explain that you’re going to read the book together, then take turns reading paragraphs or pages, whichever your child feels more comfortable doing.  Often this will take the focus off of reading the book as a whole, but onto whose paragraph (or page) has the most words.  Continue to take turns and when the book is finished (or your reading time is up) show your child how many pages you read together.

reading prizes

Some of our rewards for reading books.

Give rewards for reading books.  I’m sure you’ve seen the different reading rewards programs where your child can read 6 books and get a free kids meal, pizza, or similar prize from a restaurant.  These don’t always work for children because some children (like our son) don’t want the free kids meal, pizza or whatever the prize is if it means they have to read books.  Talk to your children and come up with prizes in the $1 – $5 range that you know they would be willing to earn by reading books.

Some examples of prizes we’ve used in the past are small games, puzzles, deck of cards, yo-yos, lego mini-figures, and even more books!  Our children are ages 8 & 5, so if you have older children these prizes may not be enough of a pull for them.  Instead try offering a trip for frozen yogurt or to get doughnuts.  I recommend that each small book (non-chapter book) be the equivalent of 50 cents, so a young child would need to read 2 books to get a $1 prize, or 6 books to get a $3 prize, and so on.  For chapter books at the 2nd-3rd grade level I typically count them as being worth $2 each. Though we don’t pay them actual money for prizes (ours would rather have toys or books instead of the cash).

Best of luck and happy reading!

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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling


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