3 Ways to Get Your Child Reading Without Books


“Put down that game and pick up a book!” Sound familiar? You’ve either heard it as a child or you’ve said it as a parent. If your kid hasn’t found their favorite series or genre yet or if your child, like many kids across the world, have trouble reading, getting them to read at school and at home can be quite a feat. But, whether your child struggles with reading or reads all the time, these three strategies will have them reading all the time without even realizing! 

1. Comics

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “comic books are toys.” And, yes, comic books are riddled with fart sounds, bright colors, and cartoons, but, they also provide many academic benefits.  Not only do comics get hesitant and developing readers excited about reading, comic books also help kids learn about specific topics (especially in science and history), and helps them understand dialogue and point of view. Don’t know where to start? Classic Marvel series and the hilarious Captain Underpants Series (my childhood favorite) were popular picks in my classroom library. You can check this list of kid-friendly comics as well.


2. Closed Captioning 

During my Parent Teacher conferences this suggestion often left my students very excited and left their parents very skeptical. Nonetheless, closed captioning, or using subtitles while watching T.V., can help improve your child’s literacy in many ways. Believe it or not, closed captioning does more than force your child to read the words at the bottom of the screen. The words help early readers match words with sounds, helps them with spelling, and helps early readers with word identification. Some studies even show that closed captions help the viewer read faster and pick up more vocabulary words.


3. Cooking

Like board games, cooking with your child goes way beyond just improving your their reading level. Not only do you get a chance to bond, but you’re teaching an important life skill at the same time. As far as reading is concerned, following a recipe allows kids to put events in chronological order (sequencing) and helps them pick up more vocabulary words; two very important parts of reading comprehension in grades 1-3. Not to mention that sight words like ‘in’, ‘under’, ‘a’, ‘to’, and many other ‘must know’ words for young readers appear over and over again in recipes and provide great practice.


What are some creative ideas you use to get your child reading? Comment below or tell me on Twitter!




The Summer Slide: Don’t Let it Happen to You

The Summer Slide. Although it sounds similar, we’re not talking about the winding, bright red or yellow ones at the park where you yell “wee” and you land in a warm pit of sand. The Summer Slide, also known as Summer Learning Loss or the Summer Slump, is when students forget the skills that they learned during the school year. It might not seem like a big deal and you may even think that our kids deserve a break from school during the summer months, but, taking an extended vacation from academics has some pretty damaging effects. Studies show that students who experience Learning Loss each summer can fall up to three years behind by the time they reach fifth grade. But, instead of lamenting on the statistics about the Summer Slide and it’s role in the Achievement Gap or the Opportunity Gap, NFB is going to share some ways to beat the Summer Slide.


1. Read Baby, Read! 

We’ve all heard it before, “Reading is fundamental.” And while it’s a cliche, it’s true. Research shows that by reading six books over the summer you can help prevent summer learning loss. Your child having a hard time picking a good book? Use some of these strategies and remember that all text is good text! Newspapers, comic books, articles, blogs, and even watching T.V. with the closed captions on, can help your child practice their reading skills.


2. Summer Journal

Nationwide, students are struggling with writing. Whether your child is struggling with basic handwriting and capitalization or working on sophisticated dialogue and “Show not Tell”, a summer journal will take your child’s writing to the next level. A summer reading journal can take many forms. You can decorate a composition notebook, have your child type their journal entries in Microsoft Word or GoogleDocs. Your child can write about their day, write about their surroundings, keep a reading log, or they can use Scholastic’s 75 Summer Writing Prompts. I particularly like the last one because you can all answer the prompts as a family and siblings can share their writing and help each other edit and improve their work as a team.


3. Field Trips 

Not able to chaperone or pay for a school field trip during the academic year? Why not go on your day off or take a vacation day to do it? Kids have so much fun learning at their own pace at an interactive science exhibit, a nature walk, or even an art museum. If your child is Pre-K or Kindergarten age in the New York City area, you can sign-up for a Cool Culture Pass and get into 90 culture institutions (botanical gardens, museums, or zoos) for free. Even if you don’t live in the Tri-State area, many museums offer discounted prices for school-age children. If you’re not sure about the museums near you, do a quick Google search or just check out this list of 20 Free Museums across the U.S.


4. Summer Bridge Activities 

I personally spent every summer using these workbooks. These workbooks are leveled by grade, range from Pre-K to 8th grade, have incentives, and have work for all subjects. What I liked (read as: what my parents liked) about the Summer Bridge books is that you can buy a book a few grade levels above your child’s to provide a little extra push or challenge. If your child is a more hands-on learner, try-out Summer Bridge’s Explorations; a series of mini-projects that keep your kids engaged with real-life applications that use all of their core subjects. The regular workbooks are about ten bucks and the Exploration books are about thirteen dollars. These Summer Bridge activities are easy-to-use, affordable, and extremely popular- a timeless way to beat the Summer Slide.


5. Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) 

NFE is all about building up and using our community. Go to your local YMCA or sign up at your local library for free summer programs, free summer camps, or reading challenges.  If your library or local community center is too far away or if you worry about your kids getting their by themselves, you can always host a book-club or a reading challenge at your house or at your local park. If that fails, you can always look on Pinterest for different summer projects.

How do you keep your kids learning during the summer months? What are some fun summer learning activities you did as a kid? Share your ideas and experiences with your fellow NFE families in the comment section below so we can beat the Summer Slide!