It’s time to dig out some good summer reading for your children, and nothing is better than giving the gift of a kids’ whodunit as a reward for solving the mysteries presented by another year of school. Our children are now facing a long stretch of free time where they risk losing some of their language skills—and we don’t want that!
You can plug daily reading into an overall summer plan that includes sharing family chores as well as fun activities such as daily reading and possibly summer camp programs. Offer a prize to be awarded at the end of the summer for the child’s degree of participation—a chart and stars can help.
Here’s the Pitch
In Someone’s Trapped, thirteen-year-old Rebecca is horrified to discover that she has become a suspect in a series of thefts from her soccer team dressing room. She calls on the Viking Club Detective Agency for help, and her friends, 12-year-old Chris and 10-year-old Jaylon, are on the case with her, but can they come up with a plan to prove her innocence? If they fail, Rebecca will pay the price. Meanwhile, Chris is trying to cope with being bullied, and Jaylon wants to help his good buddy with a problem.
Make it Fun
Remember that your goal is to make summer reading a ‘fun’ activity, and if you have a slow reader who needs help, keep it low key—no reliving the classroom struggle of sounding out words. That’s not fun. If your child pauses before a word, wait a few seconds, ask for the name of the first letter, ask for the sound the letter makes, and then simply tell your child the word. Keep the process short so that the flow of the story is not interrupted. If it is, switch to having your child read every second page, or every second paragraph, or every second sentence. Do whatever it takes.
There are particular benefits to having your child read mysteries. Not only do they supply the motivation for finishing the story to find out ‘whodunit,’ but they also involve the child in the process of problem-solving strategies, which, of course, has important life applications. There is research to support this notion, and the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute now includes the promotion of detective fiction in its curriculum content.
Finally, several studies suggest that reading fiction helps children develop empathy and understanding and makes them more adept at sizing up people and social situations. Apparently, the connection with a book over the course of many hours is much more adept at ‘jogging the brain’ than the simple response to a movie. We now know that books really can change thinking.
To lure your children away from the onslaught of summer TV programs and video games, you have to offer special enticements. Give your child a kids’ whodunit, and make this summer the one in which your child discovers reading is fun.
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