Think back to your favorite summer experiences as a young child. My grown children would probably tell you about camp, the beach and family vacations. It’s not likely that they, or you, would put summer reading high their list of special summer memories. And yet, one of the most important things we can do for our children during the summer is to make sure they continue their experiences with good books. This is especially true in light of the new Common Core Standards for Kindergarten through 12th grade English Language Arts that have already been adopted by 45 states this year. State leaders in education, working with national literacy experts, developed world-class standards that can be used by every state to improve the academic achievement of all children. These standards incorporate two major trends you can use this summer to help prepare your young children to meet and exceed the new expectations to be introduced in kindergarten this fall.
First, there is an added emphasis on children deeply understanding the books that they read or are read to them. It is no longer enough to remember whether it was the biggest or smallest goat that crossed the bridge first in The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Elementary-aged children will now be expected to understand why the troll chose the underside of the bridge as his hiding place. We know one of the best ways for children to develop this deeper comprehension is for them to be able to make connections between what happens in their own lives and in the books that they read.
Second, nonfiction informational reading takes on greatly increased importance in the new standards. While good stories still make wonderful reading material, experts agree that to be successful throughout life students will need to more easily gain and use information from textbooks, instruction manuals, product websites and the like. Surveys show that up to 85 percent of boys and men actually prefer reading nonfiction or information books rather than stories. But since moms and female teachers often select the books read to young children, less than 10 percent of what children actually hear is informational.
The good news is that you can easily use your family’s special summer experiences to put your children on a path to successfully meet the new reading standards. Try some of these ideas at home this summer.
While your children’s summer memories will still likely focus on the special family experiences you share, incorporating reading into these activities is an easy and effective way to keep children on the path toward school success.