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Special School District of St. Louis County
Summer Literacy Activities
and Tips for Families

Summer will be here before you know it. Reading and writing are skills used throughout life, and, as with any skill, practice is key, even during the summer months. Regardless of other activities, the best predictor of summer loss or summer gain is whether or not a child reads during the summer (Allington & McGill-Franzen, 2003). The good news? By reading four or more books during the summer, children (younger and older) can avoid the “summer slide” (Kim, 2004). Below are some suggestions for summer activities you can do with your children as well as tips to help your children actively engage with print.

  • Set aside special reading time.
  • Read to and with your child each day.
    • This can make for great “together time” with your younger child. If you have an older child, set aside a special time where the family members who are home read something they have chosen. Everyone is reading at the same time. After reading, check in on your child and pose questions such as, “What did you like best about what you just read?” “What do you think is going to happen next?” “Was there anything you read that you didn’t quite understand?”
  • Make connections to real life whenever possible. Use phrases like, “This part reminds me of…” to model making connections.
  • Don’t be afraid to repeat favorite stories even over the short summer months. Young children feel a sense of security when they hear the same story over and over. It also helps them become storytellers and readers.
  • Respect restlessness.
    • If your child is restless, choose another story (91 percent of children are more likely to finish books they choose themselves) or a different time to read. It is not necessary to finish every book you start.
  • Set a good example by letting your child see you reading and writing often. This is one of the most powerful ways to help children understand that reading and writing are lifetime activities.
  • Record or video your child reading a book and replay it so that they can listen to themselves. Repeat this activity so that your children can listen to themselves improve.
  • Create a “Family Reading Night.” Pick a theme such as “western,” “multicultural” or “decades like the 60's." Have dinner and dress-up to go with your theme. Select books that are appropriate. Invite friends and neighbors.
  • Help your child make his or her own storybook. Make funny drawings, or glue photos of family members onto silly magazine pictures. A younger child can dictate the story; older children can write it themselves. Let creativity rule.
  • Look for garage sales in your local newspaper. Find sales near your home that may have books. Plan a route using a map of your area. Give each child a dollar. Let them buy their own books. (Make sure they are “just right” and not too difficult before buying.)
  • Have your child read the comics to you. Cut out the comic strips and create your own comic book by pasting your child's favorite comic strips onto pages and stapling the pages together.
  • Create a Scrabble game by cutting out the large newspaper headlines and the individual letters. Or make new words with the letters from the headlines.

by Mitzi Brammer, Literacy Area Coordinator
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Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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