“Take a minute in the grocery aisle to read the marmalade label out loud. Be surprised by what it says!”

Books in the grass

Books are perfect to read outdoors …

Swedish Reading Promoter Anne-Marie Körling sends warm summer greetings to parents and children with some tips on ways that reading for pleasure can bring us closer together, offer intellectual enrichment and take us on adventures beyond space and time.

Summer is here! Long, lazy days with plenty of time for independent reading. Comic books, popular series books, reading-out-loud books—there are so many ways to continue the adventure of learning to read and being a reader. As a teacher, I know that summer reading is important to support school-year lessons and keep reading skills sharp. Having said that, let me stress that vacation is vacation. Let reading be fun!

Take advantage of this chance to read with your child. Listen to radio serials or recorded stories. Chat about the fact that you’re reading and how you read. Take a minute in the grocery aisle to read the marmalade label out loud. Be surprised by what it says! Grownups are role models for children and young adults. They do what we do; they imitate us. Let them see and hear you reading, and talk to them about what texts tell you.

We develop as readers through the act of reading, and it’s important not to get out of practice. But children don’t have to read as if they’re prepping for an exam. Reading for the sheer pleasure of the story doesn’t feel like practice at all. Children who are allowed to read what they like learn to like reading. And they need to share what they read with interested grownups. I saw a grandfather stand for a long time in front of a sign with his grandchild, letting the child tell him the letters as they sounded out the words together. See if you can find simple, spontaneous opportunities for reading wherever you go.

Libraries and bookstores are places to discover books in all their diversity. Browse a bookstore. Pick up a few books. Visit your library and take a moment to sit, read, leaf through some pages, and just be where the books are. When your child brings over a book, share their enthusiasm. Ask them what it was that caught their interest. Bring the book into your conversation. Ask about the book and listen to the stories your child tells you. Look at the illustrations and talk about what you see. Libraries have librarians whose job is to promote reading. They have a professional curiosity about their books and how they reach readers. Talk to a librarian. Bookstores have knowledgeable staff with favorites to recommend, both old and new. Talk to a bookseller.

If your child likes series, borrow ten library books by the same author. Be thrilled that there are more where those came from! Read out loud to your child from books that are past their reading level. If reading out loud feels uncomfortable, remember: your child loves your voice. They don’t care how you read, only that you read. Reading to your child is a way of sharing adventures with them, whether exciting, sad, or  funny. You can test the waters with a short book first. And yes, keep reading to your child even after they can read for themselves. Another way to do summer reading is independently, together. Pick a time for everyone to hang out together while reading their own book or magazine. Try a half-hour every day, just for fun. Read on a tablet, in a book, in a newspaper—read anything at all. You’ll not only be reading but also sharing a joint activity.

Reading is a return ticket to a summer adventure–to a place outside space and time, where we readers are warmed by the sun that shines from our stories.

Anne-Marie Körling,
Swedish National Reading Promoter

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