Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer Reading with Conor

We haven't gone on any vacations this summer. In fact, Conor and I were in the house pretty much the entire month of July. I had put together a small summer-schooling program for him to keep his skills in tip-top shape, so he worked out of three workbooks each day: a Summer Bridge workbook, a handwriting book, and a math facts workbook. All together it required about thirty minutes of work at the table.

He practiced his piano. Well, theoretically. We were kind of hit-and-miss with this. (Why is it so hard for the piano teacher to sit down with her own children at the piano?)

Each day he read to me for thirty minutes, books he'd chosen from the library. Mostly Scooby Doo chapter books, which are a lot better than Ninjago readers, let me tell you. But he got to choose, and we kept a list of each book he read. He earns a small amount of money for each finished book. His reading has improved so, so much over the summer, just from diligent practice. I get a bit irked that kids don't do more reading in school, but that's a rant for another day. His teacher gave him this Judy Moody book as a gift at the end of the school year. It was over 200 pages, and I was wondering if he would take to it since the main character is a girl, but he read that whole thing to me! And I loved it! I was not familiar with the Judy Moody series, but I have to say, it was a very entertaining read. So, this one went onto his list.

Conor also began his own reading of the Book of Mormon with me this summer. We've read as a family his whole life, but with each of my children, I like to do a personal reading with them before they make the decision to be baptized, which happens at the age of 8. That's next summer for Conor, so each day we sit together and read a chapter or two, alternating verses. He is familiar with many of the stories. Other times, the reading is more difficult to understand. At those times, I encourage him to concentrate on how he feels as he reads, even when he might not understand everything. He is about halfway through 2 Nephi right now, so we're slowly plodding along. I love that precious time with him. 

And then, one of my favorite rituals with my children, Read Aloud. When young children are learning to read, they need practice, practice, practice. Some of that practice should be at, or maybe a bit below their current reading ability, just so they can perfect fluency and the flow of words in sentences. Some of that practice should be a stretch: unfamiliar words, more complex sentence structure. But reading at that stage can be a lot of work, and to keep children coming back for more, they need to still be immersed in the absolute joy of a good story, without all the effort. Read aloud is perfect for this, and it works for readers of all abilities, not just beginning readers. I have treasured the memories of reading books aloud over the years to each of my children, as my mother read to us. 

Here's what I read to Conor this summer: (We loved them all.)

The Witches, by Roald Dahl, was so much fun. Dylan was a huge Roald Dahl fan when he was younger. We have most of his books, but for some reason, I'd never read this one. Great fun. And maybe I got a little too into it because one day Conor said, "Um, could you maybe not do the voices? You're scaring me." Well, I mean, they are witches! No, the voices stayed. They had to! 

Some shorter reads: Sir Francis Drake: His Daring Deeds, and The Gilgamesh Trilogy, by Ludmila Zeman.

Babe: The Gallant Pig, the classic that inspired the movie. (Which we still need to watch.)

Mr. Popper's Penguins. I adore this story.

And Frindle, by Andrew Clements, which I'd never heard of, but read about in another book earlier this year. Interesting idea about how words come to be and what happens when a little boy decides he will invent a new word no matter what trouble it gets him into.

So, Conor has definitely had a word-filled summer! He's had plenty of play time too, no worries. Little bits each day add up to rich experiences with books. I want my children to have a love of books, always. It gets harder and harder for children to give books a chance when the allure and immediacy of movies, television, and video games are so tempting.

What have you read to your children lately? Any suggestions for me?


Luisa Perkins said...

We've had a big book summer, too--lots of trips to the library.

Peppermint Lane said...

Geronimo Stilton is a favorite at our house. It is about a mouse and his adventures. The way the book is written is fun, the author uses cursive, different colors,etc.