Yesterday I was in the tiny town of New Hope, AL and was privileged to see about 85 upper elementary school kids and their parents coming to the library! It was great! They were there as part of the summer reading program and they had dogs at the library!
If you haven't visited a library with your kids recently, you are in for a treat. There are still lots of wonderful books (I'll list a few in a minute) but there are also TONS of activities, morning, noon and night. This year's summer reading theme is "Be Creative @ Your Library". If you are looking for ideas on engaging your children in reading this summer, the librarians are also a great source.
While at the library, let your children see you checking out a book as well. Your example is so strong, even though you might not realize it. You send one of two messages: reading is important and will be a regular part of our lives OR it's not really that important anyway. Which do you want to send?
If your child isn't too excited (YET) about reading, find videos or CDs at the library for them to listen to. Look for themes or corresponding books to read before or after. Talk about the differences between what you saw in the movie and what was in the book. If you read the book first, ask your child to "make a movie in their heads". Teachers call that visualization and it's an important tool for understanding what you read. Try this:
1) Have your child close their eyes while you read a particularly descriptive section or paragraph.
2) Ask them to think about what the room or the scene might look like. What do they smell, hear, think, wonder?
3) If they have trouble with this, do it together. Think out loud and describe beyond the author's words. You'll find that your image and that of your child might be different. That's because each person has unique experiences and "background knowledge" that he or she brings to the "reading table". That colors what we get out of the text.
Keep practicing this. It will engage your child in the reading experience. They can even draw what the words tell them as they listen.
Now, the list I promised - great reads from the public library -- but instead of listing titles, I'm giving you links to my library's suggested reads and those across the country. Enjoy!
http://hpl.lib.al.us/read/ (pick a few for yourself at the top and then scroll down to see the children's books)
http://www.plcmc.org/Bookhive/ - from my home state of North Carolina
http://kids.nypl.org/ - from the New York Public Library
http://www.lapl.org/kidspath/ - LA Public Library
http://www.atyourlibrary.org/familylife - ideas for incorporating reading into family life from the American Library Association.
Until next time, happy reading!