A Summer Spent Making Literacy Memories

CTL staff member Barbara Myerson Katz asked in her June blog entry Memories of Summer Reading and Writing, “Do you have memories of summer reading and writing? How can educators and parents ensure that the children of the early 21st century have great memories of summer reading and writing?” The summer weeks have been full of creating such memories. I thought I’d share a couple.
• Book Club. I am an active member of two book clubs. This summer’s reading lists included one self-help, two memories, and three works of fiction. I spent airplane time, car time, beach time, and couch time reading page after page of assigned text. One part of book clubbing that I most appreciate is that I am asked to read text from within genres that I may not generally select, like the selfhelp  The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin. I also read  Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, The Three Weissmans of Westport by Cathleen Schine, The Invisible Wall by Harry Berstein, and Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls.
• Summer Reading Program. I enrolled both of my toddlers in the public library’s summer reading program. The program included weekly Wednesday story hour led by the librarian. This summer’s theme was wild animal so each week’s book selections highlighted animals and included craft projects like zebra puppets and snacks like animal crackers. Each participant was given a reading log and challenged to read or have read to them twenty books. At the end of the summer, completed logs were returned to the librarian in exchange for a free book. My girls looked forward to these weekly trips where they listened to a story read to them and then engaged in extension activities like singing, dancing, and crafting. I look forward to next summer’s reading program and I know my girls do too.
Both experiences provide my daughter’s a model for what literacy experiences can look like. They see women sitting around a living room, book in hand, referencing margin notes, and discussing and questioning text. They experience firsthand being a part of a reading circle where they listen to a fluent reader read and are then given opportunities to make connections to text through music and art. These types of behaviors capture all components of literacy: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
So I’ll repost Barbara’s questions: Do you have memories of summer reading and writing? How can educators and parents ensure that the children of the early 21st century have great memories of summer reading and writing? I look forward to reading your responses.

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