Is it too late to finish summer reading?

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Parents in Action: Summer Reading

By DR. KAREN LATIMER

The answer is, it depends.

This is just about the time when I realize, each summer, that despite me telling the kids to read every day, they haven't gotten very far. Despite my many suggestions to curl up and enjoy a book, some of the reading logs are still embarrassingly sparse. Could you imagine if someone told you not to do anything except snuggle up with a good book, and then they praised you for it? Seriously? Doesn't that sound like heaven? What's wrong with kids these days?

A better question should be, what's wrong with me? I've seen this movie before. I know how it ends. Why didn't I push them harder all summer? Probably because it is so much easier to be summer mom, than school year mom, and I wanted a break from the nagging and cajoling. Now I will pay for it.

Is it too late to finish summer reading? No, but only if you are willing to put in the effort. If not, you can let their teachers deal with it in a few short weeks. That doesn't sound like a bad way to go either.

If you want your child to put their best foot and reading log forward in September, here are five tips to make it happen.

1. Book choice is everything. If your child has to read certain titles, this will not help you. Sorry. But if they were given a list of books to choose from, or were given free choice, you will need to help them make the right choice. You can talk to librarians, email the teacher or take an hour or so and skim through some books. If they are old enough to read, I am sure you have a very good handle on what they like. Look for books with storylines that compliment their interests. They will have an easier time with a longer book they like, than a shorter book they can't relate to.

2. Set goals. Charts are a pain in the neck, but they do work. Take all the books your son or daughter needs to finish and break them down by day, leaving a couple of free days during the week. Leave the chart in a place both of you will see it every day.

3. Set the stage. Schedule reading time for the same time every day, so your child can develop a routine. This will prevent her from feeling constantly blindsided, and you from having to say, "Why don't you do some reading right now!?" all day long. Make space for reading by offering your child a quiet, comfortable place to do his reading. Take away distractions, like phones, electronic devices and siblings.

4. Read together. Kids will read more if they are discussing a book with their parent. You may not want to spend time reading what they are reading, but it is worth it. It will motivate them to continue. Many children who don't enjoy reading, don't like the solitude of the activity. Being able to talk about the book makes reading more social and enjoyable.

5. Stay calm and offer bribes. It's been difficult for me to accept some of my kids don't love to read. This is akin to not liking chocolate, which is, of course, akin to insanity. Like all parents, I have to work with what I've been given. If all else fails, you may have to resort to incentives. Offer what you know will work for your child. I like to offer excursions, fun activities and games, but if you have to offer money, you won't be judged by me;)

School starts soon, but by following the above tips, I promise you can help your child be better prepared for his or her academic year ... or at the very least, make a better first impression with the teacher.

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Back to school supplies inspiration:
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Is it too late to finish summer reading?

Click through this slideshow for some back to school supply inspiration before you hit the stores. 

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Make sure your young artist has plenty of colored pencils this school year. 

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Any budding mathlete needs a protractor, compass, and plenty of pencils. 

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Be sure to stay organized with plenty of binders and file folders!

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A neat desk starts with all the right supplies in all the right places.

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Make sure you snag a pencil holder to keep track of all your writing utensils. 

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Gearing up for art class? Grab a new set of paint brushes before the school year begins.

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Composition notebooks are a must for any young writer.

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Make sure to get a stylish but sturdy new backpack to carry all these supplies!

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An assignment notebook or planner is sure to help you get everything done on time.

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Don't forget an iconic pink eraser! Pencil-top erasers are never enough.

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And of course, don't forget to assure all summer reading is finished before the first day!

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