17 Ideas to Help Beat the Summer Slide

designThough the term Summer Slide sounds fun and innocuous, it actually refers to learning loss. Learning loss is inevitable when young, developing minds are idle for 3 months. Reading skills and levels are particularly impacted with research indicating that kids who do not read over the summer can lose up to three months of reading achievement. In addition, this learning loss is cumulative over the years, which is a daunting obstacle to overcome as children get older.

It’s expected that anytime you stop practicing a skill for several months, there will be some catching up when you pick up the skill again. Reading every day is vital to combatting Summer Slide, but there are also other innovative and interactive methods parents can apply to keep summer fun while stimulating young minds at the same time:

(1) Read Something Every Day. This is the #1 rule and parents should lead by example and read too. Whether it’s a magazine, the newspaper, a comic book or novel, encourage children to read at least 30 minutes every day. Keeping a basket of books in the car is a great way to steal some reading time.

(2) Read at Least 6 Books this Summer. Create your own home reading program with an incentive for completing 6 reading level appropriate books. If you don’t know your child’s reading level, consult their teacher. Parents know best what will motivate their own children. Challenge your child to come up with a name, theme and logo. It can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like, with your own timeframe and rules. Just make sure to follow through and encourage your young readers.

(3) Read Aloud with Your Child. It seems counterintuitive to read aloud with your child when they learn to read on their own. But reading aloud with your child presents many benefits, especially as they get older. Consider a family book club where you and your child take turns reading aloud to each other from a mutually selected book.

(4) Read the book and then watch the movie. Many books have been adapted for the big screen, it’s tempting for all ages to skip the book and fast forward to the movie. For early readers on to YA Fiction, incent and reward your child with a book movie party after they’ve read the book first. Then, hold a critic’s review and discuss the differences and similarities, likes and dislikes.

(5) Book swap with friends. Get together with friends and have informal book swaps where kids can borrow books from each other. No matter what librarian, parent, teacher or website recommends, peers can be the best source of good reads.

(6) Cook with Your Children. Reading recipes, measuring, and preparing can develop comprehension, math, and motor skills. In addition, children who engage in meal prep are more likely to eat different foods.

(7) Trips to Museums and Zoos. Museums are great resources for learning and most of the time, kids aren’t even aware they’re learning. Be sure to take your time and allow kids to read all of the great signs and graphics set up at each exhibit.

(8) Keep a Journal. A great way to keep writing skills polished over the summer is to have kids keep a daily journal. Jotting down just a couple of sentences a day can help keep up sentence structures, penmanship, and vocabulary.

(9) Listen to Audiobooks. A long car trip is the perfect opportunity to listen to an Audiobook. The Library has a huge selection of Audiobooks to choose from. Also, on hot summer days, staying inside and listening to an audiobook for a few hours can be a perfect, relaxing, mid-day activity.

(10) Regular Game Nights. Games can make kids into better students. In addition to being fun, they can teach valuable math, reasoning, executive functioning, teamwork, and sportsmanship skills.

(11) Join the Summer Reading Program at the Library. Summer library reading programs began in the late 1800s as a way to encourage non-working school children to read during summer vacation. Today, library reading programs are the public’s most popular choice for summer reading programs. Commit to visit the library once a week during the summer and let your child take their time browsing and selecting books. It’s free, air-conditioned, and the books are always changing, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.

(12) Incorporate geography. Print out a map of the world and ask your child to pin countries and states where the characters in the books live or visit. This can be a fun way to initiate interest in different locations around the world. Also, readers may gain satisfaction in keeping track of all the different cities they have virtually traveled to through their reading.

(13) Give Kids Access to Books. Even if you have a large selection of books in your home library, visit the Library regularly. The inventory at the Library changes by the hour and it’s guaranteed that kids will find something new to read every visit. Also, book ownership is important in establishing an appreciation for books.

(14) Give Kids a Choice in Selecting Books. Allow them to choose what they want to read. Even if it’s 100 graphic novels, giving kids a choice will capture their attention and interest longer.

(15) Keep Up with the Math Facts. There’s many way to keep up with math facts and many of them require no more than a few minutes of investment at a time and best of all, flashcards aren’t required. Quiz facts while waiting for meals, riding in cars, taking walks, or riding bikes. Just a few minutes a day can keep the dust off.

(16) Set Aside Time Every day. Most people want to avoid routines in the summer, but sticking to a time every day for reading will help develop expectations and good habits during the usually unscheduled summer months.

(17) Set Goals and Celebrate. Reading shouldn’t be a chore, and the habits that young readers develop now can benefit them into adulthood. Have a discussion at the beginning of summer and set realistic goals. Be sure to reward and celebrate accomplishments along the way and at the end of summer.


Klutz Activity Kits Make Creating Fun

Klutz Felted Friends


If you’re like me, sometimes you’re skeptical about the value of an all in one activity kit. Concerns about ease of use, quality, and ability to capture attention spans of kids generally conquer my desire to purchase them. Recently, I had the opportunity to review several Klutz brand activity kits, and my opinions have been transformed. Head over to The Children’s Book Review and read about what makes these kits great to have on hand at home and why they also make great gifts.


Seven Middle Grade Books for African American History Month



As we celebrate African American History Month, we are fortunate to have several recently published middle grade books that share remarkable stories of bravery, courage, and resilience. The authors of these books offer precious insight that young readers may not otherwise gain from traditional history books.  Visit The Children’s Book Review to read our list of “7 Middle Grade Books for African American History Month” and share these exceptional stories with the children in your home, classroom, or library.


President’s Day Reading for Kids: Facts, Guides & Trivia, Oh My!


President’s Day is right around the corner and what better than books to teach our children about these important people in American history. Head over the The Children’s Book Review and read our list of 10 Non-Fiction Books About Presidents. There’s guaranteed to be something for everyone!

12 Great Christmas Books for Kids and Families

12 Great Christmas Books

The holidays are a sentimental and reflective time when families gather to celebrate traditions and create lasting memories.  As families commemorate this festive season, many turn to a bountiful selection of classic and beautiful picture books with stories that can be timelessly shared year after year. These books have the ability to slow readers down during the especially busy season, allowing the opportunity to refocus and connect on the meaning and magic of Christmas.  Creating a tradition of adding a Christmas story to the home library each year can be a heartwarming exercise that can benefit many generations- here are 12 of our favorite Christmas books, best shared over a cup of cocoa by the fire.


Santa Mouse

By Michael Brown, Illustrated by Elfrieda De Witt

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Barnes and Noble Books (1996)

Publisher’s Synopsis: Everyone knows that Santa Mouse is Santa’s little helper but how did it all come about? Find out in this charming story about a tiny mouse with no name who lived a very lonely life in a very big house. He loved Christmas dearly and had a special present for Santa, but how could he possibly give it to him? After all, he’s only a mouse. And how did a little ordinary mouse become Santa Mouse, the helper Santa could never do without?


The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story

By Gloria Houston, Illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Ages 5-8 | Publisher: Puffin (October 1996)

This is a beautiful and heartwarming story about a small Appalachian village and the year they almost did not have a Christmas tree. Little Ruthie and her father had set out early in the spring to pick the perfect tree to serve as the village Christmas tree. But when her father goes off to war and has not returned by Christmas Eve, it is up to Ruthie and her mother to keep the village’s sacred tradition alive.


Stranger in the Woods

By Carl R. Sams and Jean Stoick

Ages 5-8 | Publisher: Carl R Sams II Photography (November 1999)

Publisher’s Synopsis: Stranger in the Woods is a photographic fantasy that tells how the furry and feathered friends of the forest respond to a mysterious visitor. On the national and New York Times best-seller lists during the winter for 5 consecutive years, Stranger in the Woods has warmed the hearts of children ages 1 to 100.


The Polar Express

By Chris Van Allsburg

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (October 1985)

The Polar Express is a classic Christmas story that has warmed millions of hearts and has become a staple of the holiday season. A mysterious, magical train rolls up to a young boy’s front door, taking him on a spectacular trip to the North Pole. This unforgettable journey teaches the boy that the magic of Christmas is in believing.


The Nutcracker

By Susan Jeffers

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins (September 2007)

The world’s most beloved holiday tale is beautifully retold by Susan Jeffers in simple text and oversized illustrations.  These illustrations are truly what make Jeffer’s version of The Nutcracker unique, the lush watercolors invite young reader’s imaginations to join Marie on her journey with the Nutcracker Prince for an unforgettable experience.


The Twelve Days of Christmas

By Jane Ray

Ages 3-8 | Publisher: Candlewick (September 2011)

Publisher’s Synopsis: In this lushly illustrated interpretation of the familiar Christmas carol, each spread offers surprises for the eye as nostalgic city scenes depict a multiethnic cast of characters bustling with packages and sprucing up their homes for the holidays. But at one home in particular, an endless succession of gifts keeps arriving: birds of all stripes, ladies dancing aboard a brightly bedecked boat, lords leaping on rooftops, and pipers piping up and down stairs. Filled with intricate patterns and whimsical flourishes, Jane Ray’s gorgeous artwork is the perfect match for this wonderfully cumulative tale.

With luminous artwork full of elaborate detail, the acclaimed Jane Ray brings new life to a classic holiday song.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas

By Dr. Seuss

Ages 5-9 | Publisher Random House Books for Young Readers (October 1957)

Publisher’s Synopsis: “Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot . . . but the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT!” Not since “’Twas the night before Christmas” has the beginning of a Christmas tale been so instantly recognizable. No holiday season is complete without the Grinch, Max, Cindy-Lou, and all the residents of Who-ville, in this heartwarming story about the effects of the Christmas spirit on even the smallest and coldest of hearts. Like mistletoe, candy canes, and caroling, the Grinch is a mainstay of the holidays, and his story is the perfect gift for young and old.


The Christmas Wish

By Lori Evert, Photography by Per Breiehagen

Ages 3-7 | Publisher Random House Books for Young Readers (September 2013)

Publisher’s Synopsis: Long ago, a brave little girl named Anja wanted to be one of Santa’s elves. So she leaves a note for her family and helps her elderly neighbor prepare for the holiday, then she straps on her skis, and heads out into the snowy landscape. From a red bird to a polar bear to a reindeer, a menagerie of winter animals help Anja make her way to Santa. A generous trim-size, matte cover, and foiled title make this a special book for the holiday season.


The Night Before Christmas 

By Clement C. Moore, Illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa

Ages 3-8 | Publisher: Sterling (September 2007)

Publisher’s Synopsis: The Night Before Christmas is the most enduring and memorable of all holiday poems. Celebrated artist Gyo Fujikawa brings new levels of excitement and joy to the verse, concocting a variety of goodies to feed sugarplum visions. From the first lovable image of a pink-eared mouse to the final spread of Papa waving goodbye as Santa and his reindeer fly away into the sky, Fujikawa provides pure enchantment. Kittens and dogs curl up everywhere in the old-fashioned home; stockings hang by the fireplace; and a group of irresistibly adorable children nestle next to cakes, cookies, and candy canes on a bed of soft dreamy clouds. Young readers and adults alike will be mesmerized. This edition of The Night Before Christmas was originally published by Grosset & Dunlap in 1961.


Dream Snow

By Eric Carle

Ages 2-6 | Publisher: Philomel (September 2000)

Publisher’s Synopsis: It’s December 24th, and the old farmer settles down for a winter’s nap, wondering how Christmas can come when there is no snow! It is in his dream that he imagines a snowstorm coming and covering him and his animals—named One, Two, Three, Four and Five—in a snowy blanket.  But when the farmer awakens, he finds that it has really snowed outside, and now he remembers something! Putting on his red suit, he goes outside, puts some gifts under the tree for his animals, and presses a button near a Christmas tree, creating a most surprising musical treat for children everywhere.


The Wild Christmas Reindeer

By Jan Brett

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Puffin (October 1998)

Publisher’s Synopsis: For two decades, readers have loved this classic Christmas story, which was one of the first children’s books to hit the New York Times bestseller list. Now, this beautiful 20th anniversary edition, with a foil cover and a heartfelt note from Jan herself, makes a perfect introduction for new fans to this cherished yuletide story.

Featuring the wintry northern setting and the border illustrations that have become a hallmark of Jan’s work, readers will love watching Teeka’s humorous attempts to control the rambunctious reindeer in time for their Christmas run.


The Scrawny Little Tree

By Ed Mehler, Illustrated by Susie Pollard

Ages 3-8 | Publisher: Price, Stern, Sloan (October 2011)

Publisher’s Synopsis: Originally published in 1973, The Scrawny Little Tree tells of a destitute little boy who has always wanted a Christmas tree. He finally has saved enough to buy a little tree all his own, one with scrawny limbs and very few needles. But the boy’s love for his first Christmas tree is not affected by its diminutive stature. His love and the magic of Christmas combine to make a strange and wonderful thing happen to the town . . . Told in rhyme and with retro illustrations, The Scrawny Little Tree is sure to become a favorite holiday tale!


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