A+ Advice for Parents

Kids' Interest in Reading Doesn't Have to Stop at Books

Q: My 10- and 11-year-old boys enjoyed Summer Reading Camp, but now that it's over, I can't get them to pick up a book. I want them to keep reading until school starts. Any thoughts?

A: While it would be super if all young readers spent the summer with their noses in books, rethink what you consider reading: Will they pick up a magazine? A Kindle? An iPad? Will they research a topic on a website?

"Students don't have to devour novels to keep up their skills," says Jonathan Rosenbloom, an editor at TIME For Kids Books. "In fact, with more emphasis on informational texts in the new Common Core Standards, getting kids to read more nonfiction should be a summer goal."

Rosenbloom suggests these strategies:

First, get your sons to do the family reading. If you are planning a weekend trip, have them research the route, write an itinerary, find the cheapest gas, chart places to stop and so on. If you are hungry for peanut butter cookies, have them comb your cookbooks and the Internet for a great recipe, then make the shopping list, bake the cookies and write a recipe review. If you are searching for a movie the family will enjoy, ask them to identify three and read the reviews to you.

"The goal is to show them how we use reading and writing each day to find information, make decisions, be productive and add pleasure to our lives," says Rosenbloom.

Second, think beyond the book. The price of e-readers has dropped considerably, and there are thousands of tween titles available. Many kids also enjoy reading on their smartphones and tablet devices. Talk to them about how you will monitor their purchases, and give them a budget for downloading the reading of their choosing.

Third, stock up on "quick reads," so when you have a few minutes, you can enjoy reading with them. Children's almanacs are great sources of awesome info: The 2013 editions of the World Almanac for Kids, the TIME For Kids Almanac and the National Geographic Kids Almanac were all recently released.

Fourth, take your boys to yard sales to stock up on reading material. Among the used books, atlases, encyclopedias and magazines, Rosenbloom says, "Your sons might find an issue of Popular Science on the possibility of alien life that leads to hours of related reading."

Fifth, as you browse your own news sources each day, save and print articles you think would interest your boys and then read the articles together. A profile of a sports figure might lead them to read that person's biography; a news article on a record-size Asian carp will have them looking up other invasive species. Before you know it, your boys will have good topics teed up for research reports when school starts.

(Do you have a question about your child's education? Email it to Leanna@aplusadvice.com. Leanna Landsmann is an education writer who began her career as a classroom teacher. She has served on education commissions, visited classrooms in 49 states to observe best practices, and founded Principal for a Day in New York City.)

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