Arrrg! A pirate descended upon Saylor Elementary gym for a Title I and Reading Committee sponsored event May 10. To celebrate literacy on a humid May evening, the children sat in front of the storyteller with watchful eyes as Zachary Gipson bounded in as Captain Zack. Dressed in frayed shorts and a vest with his pirate hat and eye patch all eyes were on him as he pulled scroll after scroll of pirate speak and names from his bag. After some pirate jokes, learning several different ways to clap, and some pirate language all the students gathered closer to listen to a reading of "How I Became A Pirate" by Melinda Long and illustrated by David Shannon.
After the reading of the book many book door prizes were given away. Special pirate dress-up props were donated by the Greer family and presented to Saylor students. Then grade appropriate activities were given to every student to take home. Included was a "Swashbuckle" game for practice of sight words, letters, and Greek and Latin roots depending on grade level. Several writing activities for each student were also presented.
As summer approaches the need for reading at home increases so summer reading loss can be curbed. Having reading materials especially about subjects your children find interesting is important. Summer is the time for interests and imaginations to be the factor for reading, not assignments and accelerated reader points. Remember that reading "old favorites" even if they are below the children independent reading level is good. It helps with the flow of reading and it is fun! This time is also good to stretch a little beyond the independent reading level especially if the book is about something of high interest to the reader.
Several ways to help make reading fun is to visit the public library and sign up for the summer reading programs available. Look for books and magazines in subjects your child finds interesting like baseball, swimming, pirates, animals, a hobby, or nature. Reasonable limits should be set for television viewing as well. Carving out a special time of the day for reading to establish a daily routine is also helpful. A good time is at the same time you are reading the paper and everyone can read together.
Book and magazines in the car for your child to read is also a great time to encourage reading. Other quick tips that can help are reading things in the environment like packaging and road signs. Looking up words to a favorite song and singing them together is a fun activity. Also, encouraging older children to read to younger ones can strengthen both their reading skills. Talking to your child about what they are reading and asking questions is another good strategy. Reading to your child even after they can read independently and playing word games with your child are other ways to help.
Summer is a time for relaxation and fun. Include books in this positive mix and the summer can be a time for helping your child achieve in the fall and maybe encourage a love of reading too.
This column solely represents the opinion of the writer. Tammy Zack is the Reading Resource Teacher at Saylor ELementary School.