The BJU Press Summer Reading Program has begun! In celebration of its launch, we spoke with Nancy Lohr, acquisitions editor for JourneyForth, about the Summer Reading Program and topics related to reading. Nancy, an avid reader herself, has also worked as a classroom teacher and a children’s librarian in the past. Below is a portion of the interview.
What is your goal for the Summer Reading Program, or what would you say is its purpose?
The BJU Press Summer Reading Program is designed to give parents a manageable and effective way to keep their children reading through the summer months. Research shows that children can lose ground educationally during the summer months, and parents can minimize or eliminate this loss by establishing a pattern of leisure reading at home. Reading contests and programs can be notoriously difficult for the parent or teacher to execute, so we’ve designed our program to promote regular reading for children—we’re asking for reading five days a week for eight weeks during your summer—with a minimum of paperwork for Mom and Dad and taking into consideration the varying skills and interests of the children who participate. This gives families time for vacations, summer camp, and family activities while still making reading a priority, which in turn advances reading skills and fosters a love of reading.
Do you have some suggestions or encouragement for parents of reluctant readers?
If you as parents know why your child is reluctant, then you have some idea of where you need to focus your efforts.
Maybe you need to start the summer with an engaging read-aloud for your family. This could be the fanciful My Father’s Dragon or the poignant Stone Fox or . . . you get the idea.
Help your child select books appropriate to his or her skills. Scour an anthology or your library’s catalog to find something that is engaging to your child and suitable for your family, or talk with your local children’s librarian for ideas. Get recommendations from the readers in your world. Try cooperative reading with your child, taking turns with paragraphs or pages or with each of you reading the words of specific characters. Or one of you signal the other when you are ready to handoff to the other reader. Some children like to reread books; that’s just fine. Who doesn’t like to spend an afternoon with an old friend? Reading skills are strengthened even in rereading. Consider why that book is your child’s friend, and then look for books that are similar in some way.
If your child has adequate reading skills but doesn’t like to read, then it may be that he or she just hasn’t found a home-run book yet. Reading fiction may not be your child’s cup of tea, so look for nonfiction that will answer questions or deliver information. It may be that a book about combustion engines or the Smithsonian Magazine can satisfy your child’s need to know. Use the summer to find the kind of reading material that scratches the reading itch for your youngster.
Do you have a reluctant reader in your home or classroom? What have you done to motivate that child?