Friday, July 8

Literacy & The Summer

Children who don't read over the summer see their reading skills regress an average of 18 months.

(This cheery fact brought to you by my mother, who has been teaching remedial reading since before I was born and knows a thing or two on the subject.)

Needless to say, such unfortunate children start the next school year far behind their peers and will spend much of their time simply getting back up to speed rather than making real, lasting progress.

Now the good news: you can help prevent this! It won't even be expensive, painful or difficult.

Go to your local bookstore - used or new. (If you want social brownie points, make it a local, independently owned store.) Select a kid-friendly paperback (hint: many will tell you the recommended age level if you're not sure) and a fun postcard. Self-address and stamp the card and tuck it into the book.

Give (or mail) the book to a kid in your life that you happen to like and want to see succeed in life. (Your own, your siblings', your friends' - or all of the above!)

Tell the child that when they finish the book they can mail you the postcard with their opinion. Did they like it? Why was it good (or bad)? What did they think? Promise that when you get the postcard, you'll mail them another book.

Every child likes gifts, surprises, sharing their opinion and the novelty of getting mail. Therefore, almost all will like this idea - especially if you pick kid-friendly books. (Hint: the child's parents, a librarian or most bookstore owners can point you in the right direction if you need help.) Maybe your choices will introduce a child to a lifelong joy of reading. Maybe they'll only finish the first book. But if it helps them start the next school on track, it'll have been worth the effort!

Note: If you're a teacher and want to do this with some of your students but don't want them to have your home address, approach one of the AP's, guidance counselors or other staff who will be working at your school all summer. Address the postcards to yourself care of that person at the school, and ask them to either forward the cards to you or give you a call as they come in!

Further note: All credit for this plan goes to my brilliant mother, and I share it with you because I believe in spreading good ideas for the benefit of all mankind. If you pass it along, please credit the source. Thank you!

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