Making Summer Reading More Engaging

August 4, 2016 by Michelle Reynard

Part 2 of our Beat the Summer Reading Blues Series: Nonfiction Reading

Get Your Child’s Attention with Nonfiction Reading Material

Nonfiction reading matters. It’s important for students to read and write about real people and events. Furthermore, the amount of nonfiction reading in the classroom increases with each new year after 2nd grade. And the ability to draw meaning from these texts is essential to learning required information, especially in subjects like social studies and science.  Fortunately, there are an abundance of excellent nonfiction resources on diverse topics for learners of all ages. Ask what topics most interest your child.

Explore Nonfiction Magazines

Nonfiction magazines allow students to learn more about many topics of interest. In addition, they build vocabulary while improving comprehension. In spite of the popularity of iPads and e-readers, magazines are still pretty frequently found in waiting rooms, homes, and supermarket isles. When kids look at nonfiction magazines, they feel like they are able to read something that they see grown-ups enjoy on a regular basis. They also take away information that feeds their curiosity and allows them to engage more in conversations at home and school. Articles designed for children can be read independently or, even better, shared with friends and siblings. Conveniently, there are a number of nonfiction magazines intended for children or teens that can be purchased at your local bookstore or online. They may also be found at your local library.

A few of our favorites are:

  • KIDS Discover: Over 140 titles for purchase, including “Antarctica”, “Elephants”, “Knights & Castles”, and “Space”. Early learner titles for K-4 and higher level materials for grades 5-12.
  • Time for Kids: Current events around the world. K-6 grade editions available. Family edition also available.
  • Sports Illustrated KIDS: Sports news for, ages 8-14.
  • Ask: Fun facts as answers to “why” questions about science and nature. Ages 6-9.
  • National Geographic Kids and National Geographic Little Kids: Learn about animals, people, and places all over the world. Ages 6 and up.
  • Dig Into History: Learn about history through articles, games, and projects related to archaeological finds. Ages 9-14.
  • Ranger Rick and Ranger Rick Jr.: Kids 7 and up learn about animals and nature. Jr edition available for ages 4-6.

In addition, for a writing connection, ask your child to write a report or fictional story based on information learned from their nonfiction reading source.

Celebrate Olympic Athletes

The Rio 2016 games have arrived. Consequently, it’s a great time to explore biographies of athletes and work on reading comprehension. Due to familiarity, children may enjoy learning more about an athlete they admire. There a number of excellent biographies and anthologies for young readers focused on athletes from the past and present. If you choose a current Olympian, perhaps select a newer, lesser known name to learn about and cheer your athlete on when the games take place. You might also focus on a popular sport and read more about former athletes who paved the way for current stars. The list of available biographies is long, therefore we have listed a few notable nonfiction titles below.

A Few Suggestions

  • Sports Illustrated KIDS Big Book of Who (All Stars, Basketball or Football edition. Each title focuses on 101 athletes from the past and present)
  • Rising Above: How 11 Athletes Overcame Challenges in Their Youth to Become Stars (Athletes include professional basketball players, Steph Curry and LeBron James, professional soccer player, Tim Howard, and finally, professional baseball player, Jim Abbott)
  • Kid Athletes: Trues Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends (Athletes include former professional tennis player, Billie Jean King, former professional boxer, Muhammad Ali, and lastly retired professional basketball player, Yao Ming.
  • Soul Surfer (Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton)
  • Who Was Jackie Robinson
  • Grace, Gold and Glory: My Leap of Faith (Olympic gymnast, Gabrielle Douglas)
  • Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream
  • Throw Like a Girl: How to Dream Big and Believe in Yourself (Softball pitcher, Jenny Finch)
  • Go for the Goal (Retired professional soccer player, Mia Hamm)
  • The Flea (Professional footballer, Leo Messi)
  • Wilma Unlimited (Track and field sprinter, Wilma Rudolph)
  • Who is Wayne Gretzky

For a writing connection, you can challenge your child to write a closed book summary of the athlete’s life after reading the biography. Provide specific questions to help with organization. (ex. What inspired this person to continue in the sport? What challenges or setbacks did the athlete experience along the way? What are a few accomplishments the athlete’s made in the sport?)

Remember What Is Most Important

Whatever activity you decide on to reinforce reading over the summer months, remember, not every error needs to be corrected or pointed out. It’s helpful  for children to know that even excellent readers make mistakes.  Furthermore, the more willing they are to try different stories or sound out words, the easier it will eventually become. Most importantly, it’s about exploring the different purposes for reading and having fun.

Michelle Reynard

About Michelle Reynard

Michelle is a former classroom teacher with a specialization in reading. She joined Gemm Learning in 2008 and has enjoyed the opportunity to apply her education and experience in new ways.