One summer I pitched an idea to my wife to create a summer reading program for the boys that would help prevent summer slide. The idea centered on using reading as a tool to develop our sons’ passions and interests.
My wife, who is an analytical thinker, asked me, “How are you going to execute this idea?”
I created an action plan to make this idea a reality. The plan had four tips : reading identity, home reading culture, selection of books, and modeling good reading habits.
Reading can be a difficult process for kids and can discourage them from seeing themselves as readers. At times my oldest son struggled with lessons. He would put himself down about his reading skills. I wrote and designed books using free software, which we viewed off our smart TV.
When my oldest son saw himself in the books, he began viewing himself as a reader. Cultivating this identity increased his desire to put in effort to learn how to read, which meant creating a strong reading culture to support that identity.
Creating a Reading Culture
Last summer, my sons and I took biweekly trips to our neighborhood library. The library served as a place where they could play with other children and learn. While the boys engaged in activities, I searched the library for books.
I planned to read five books to them a day and 25 books each week. We read in the morning, before nap time, and after dinner time. If we were on the bus, then I had a book ready to read. As their father, I established the reading culture in order to inspire them to develop the agency as readers.
By the end of the summer, my sons had been exposed to over 400 books. Exposing them to all these books meant they had been introduced to thousands of words and concepts necessary to develop their vocabulary.
Our reading culture focused on consistency and connection with spaces that reinforced reading like the library. It is important to note that the choice of books is essential to the development of this reading culture.
Selection of Books
When I selected books for my sons, I considered four areas of holistic development. During our visits to the library, I selected books about famous leaders, social and emotional development, creativity, imagination, health, science, civic engagement, and whatever they were interested in.
As I read these books to them, I asked them questions to help them in comprehending the morals and lessons within the books. Selecting books, which focused on their overall development, was great, but I soon realized that the most important selection occurred when my sons picked books that they were interested in.
Picking books they were interested in made reading time easy. Most times, when I read a book they selected, they asked that I read it over and over again. When we as parents read books that support our children’s holistic development, we prepare them to pursue and accomplish their dreams.
Modeling Positive Reading Habits
As fathers, we should read too.
Our children should see us reading books that contribute to our holistic development and advance our dreams. When we read for the sake of becoming better men, our children see the life-changing power of reading.
In the early days of parenthood, my wife and I read a lot. We read not knowing that our sons were watching us; they were learning how to hold the books and how to turn the pages.
Creating a reading program for your family is one way to prevent your young dreamer from suffering from summer slide.
Dr. Nosakhere Griffin-EL is the President of The Dreamocracy Learning Lab and Founder of The Young Dreamers’ Book Club. His work focuses on creating innovative programming, content, and initiatives to inspire children to view reading as a tool to create and build their dreams. Dr. Griffin-EL’s fundamental belief is that meeting children at their dreams is a powerful way to teach them the importance of reading. Follow him on Twitter @drgriffinel