The annual Summer Reading Celebration kicked off our local libraries’ summer reading programs with the theme A Universe of Stories. The day-long event on the State Capitol grounds provides children and families a fun day and gets them excited about reading. Gateway to Science is a regular participant in the celebration and this year was no different. The Summer Reading Celebration is a wonderful way to meet the community and share the importance of reading and STEM for children of all ages.

It’s important for children to continue reading throughout the summer school break. On average, students return to school in the fall having lost a full month or more of learning. This “summer slide” can be combated with creative ways to encourage reading. The following reading ideas are taken from lists compiled by Childhood 101 and Scholastic Parents.

  • Letters or Postcards. Have family and friends send postcards to your children when they travel. Plus, they can write a letter back.
  • Closed Captioning. Most televisions have a closed captioning setting. Kids can listen and read along with the program. Or, you can turn off the sound and your child can follow-along by reading.
  • Menus. Let your child order their dinner when you go out to eat. Or, make your own menus for dinner one night at home.
  • Comics. Don’t discount the power of comics to hook kids on reading. They are a great way to teach your children about the back and forth of dialog. The local newspaper will have daily and weekly comics. Let your child get hooked on following a particular strip.
  • Billboards and Street Signs. Reading can take place in the car too. Use the signs along the road. Ask your child, “I need to make a right turn on Market Street. Let me know when we get to that street please.”
  • Maps or atlases. Highlight the route of a car trip the family is taking. Your child can follow the route and look for directional and distance road signs.
  • Cereal Boxes. Exploring the cereal box which is great way to encourage reading at breakfast!
  • Travel Brochures. They can plan fantasy vacations and learn a bit of geography, too.
  • Magazines. There are lots of great magazines for kids, both at the newsstand and available for digital downloads.
  • Poetry. Grab a collection of poems or sit down and write some with your children. Rhyming is an important skill for reading, and having your children write poems on their own is a great way to build that skill.
  • Sports Programs. Hold on to the programs that you are given at sporting events and let your kids read and reread about their favorite athletes and teams.
  • Catalogs. Many catalogs now are so much more than just products and quick descriptions. Have your child make wish lists and fit in a little writing, too.
  • Recipes. Cook with your kids and take turns reading the ingredients and instructions. This is a great example of real-life reading for kids of any age.
  • Dictionaries. You might be hard pressed to convince your children to read a dictionary from cover to cover, but give them a challenge like: “Find a new word that starts with ‘r'” or “Find a word with 13 letters” and they will end up doing a lot of reading with a plain old dictionary.
  • Books They Write! Nothing is as powerful as reading their own writing. Encourage your child to write, and his reading will get a boost, too.

Literacy skills and STEM go hand in hand. STEM professionals must be able to think critically, interpret test results, master a varied and complex vocabulary, and to clearly communicate both verbally and in writing. By mixing reading and STEM, children can become strong readers while discovering topics that spark their interests.

Read Alouds for STEM was written for elementary teachers in the classroom; however, it is also a wonderful resource to use at home. Each of the ten books highlighted “sets the stage” for a hands-on STEM activity for children to do using everyday materials.

Do you have more ideas? Share them with us in the comments section!

~ Judy Sauter, Marketing Director

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