Summer Reading Club and Journal Writing | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Summer Reading Club and Journal Writing

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer Reading Club and Journal Writing

Do you have a hard time getting your kids to keep up their reading and writing skills during the summer? After a whole year of school, sometimes the last thing kids want to do in the summer is anything that reminds them of what they usually do at school. Studies show, however, that these skills can regress if they are not maintained, leading to "summer learning loss" and the need to catch up for the first month back in school.

To prevent summer loss, kids should read and write on a daily basis throughout the summer. That doesn't mean that your whole summer has to be a fight with your kids though. Finding ways to incorporate reading and writing into all the fun things you are doing will help them enjoy reading and writing.

As part of organizing our summer, I mentioned that I was going to sign my kids up for the reading club at our library and create writing journals for each of them. I'm hoping that both of these things will encourage my kiddos to read and write throughout the summer so their skills stay fresh. 

So, here's what I put together for writing journals. I bought notebooks at the dollar store (they were 4 for $1!) and put a couple stickers on the front.

These notebooks are only 32 pages so they are not huge but I didn't want them to feel pressured to write too much or have a partially completed journal by the end of the summer.  Plus, if they write a lot then I still have two more that they can use! 

I found the picture for the "Summer" sticker here.

I just copied it onto a label and printed it out.  Then I made a label with each of their names on it.   I figure they will have fun decorating the cover any way they want.   I'm sure my daughter will have the whole thing covered in stickers by the end of the summer :)

The idea is for them to be able to write about whatever they want. They can write about what they do each day - games they play, places they go, friends they play with, etc. Or they can write about what they hope to do. They can even write stories if they want (my son likes to do that sometimes). It's totally up to them. My daughter had a journal in Kindergarten this year where she drew a picture and then wrote about what was happening in the picture. She's working on sounding out words herself to prepare for Grade 1 in September. So for her summer journal she can continue doing a similar thing.

I also looked online for ideas of what my kids could write about if they ever ran out of ideas. I found lots of blogs with various journal prompts. I chose this one because it was specifically summer oriented and it looked pretty too! I printed it out for each of them and glued it inside the front cover of their journals.

On the last page I created a place for each of them to record the books they read this summer. 

It's not pretty but I wanted to keep it simple.  I saw lots of pretty reading logs online, including these ones, but I just really wanted the date and title for each book.  Other logs included the author, number of minutes of reading, or number of pages read.  That seemed too complicated for our needs so I just wrote what I wanted.  I figured there would be some kind of log with the library reading club too so I didn't want to get too fancy :)

My kids were both excited when I gave them these journals.  My daughter was particularly happy because "it's pink!"  They are eager to use them throughout the summer. 

They were also excited about participating in a summer reading club.  When I was in school I often joined the summer reading club at our library. We were allowed to read whatever books we wanted and after each one we filled out a short book review. The questions were categorized by age so everyone could participate according to their ability. The library tracked the number of books each person read throughout the summer and awarded prizes for reaching certain numbers of books read. There was also a party at the end of the summer and certificates were given to the people who read the most books in their age group. That motivated me like crazy!   I may be a little competitive :)  I loved reading anyway, but prizes and certificates sure helped.

A couple of months ago, when I was sorting through a bin of childhood memories in the basement, I came across a few certificates that I kept from those summers.   {Exciting thing:  when I went to look for them to scan for this post, I knew exactly where to find them!  That would not have happened a few months ago so I must be making progress in organizing all my stuff :)}

Here's one of the certificates:

I think it's cute that it was a Star Wars theme that summer and now my son is crazy about Star Wars!  I also found a newspaper clipping with a picture of all the winners from one summer - including me!

That's me on the right holding up my Super Reader T-shirt!  So fun looking back at these!  I showed these to my kids when I found them a few months ago and told them about the summers I participated in the library reading club.   So, when I mentioned the idea recently of registering them for the reading club at our library, they were pumped. 

I did some research on the library reading club though, and it doesn't appear to be based on reading as many books as you can.  The goal is more to encourage kids to enjoy reading.  I understand the rationale for that but my son was disappointed that it wasn't a competition.  Wonder where he gets that from? :) 

Also, my son (he is 8) has started reading chapter books that are quite long (he recently started a Star Wars book that is over 400 pages long!). 

That's a big book!  I'm really happy that he is interested in reading longer books, but it appears that the way the library reading club is structured, he will not be "rewarded" for tackling a longer book.  I want to find a way to recognize his achievements as he reads chapters in longer books so he will still be interested in reading them. 

My daughter (who is 5) is also quite competive (everything's a race for her!).  But, she has been a bit lazy with reading on her own (she's just starting to be able to do it).  She loves to be read to, especially Berenstain Bears books

We love to read to her (and we know that all too soon she won't want us to do it as much), but we really want to help her develop her reading skills further this summer.  Her teacher said she read a lot at school so we know she can do it.  We just need to find ways to motivate her more.

So, considering all these things, I decided we'd have our own "competition" between my son and my daughter for who can read the "most" this summer (and I'll give small prizes to both from time to time to acknowledge their efforts). They haven't asked about what the winner gets but just seem happy that they get to compete. So, each of my kids will keep a list of what they have read in the back of their summer writing journals. 

With our reading competition, my son can record chapters of his longer books instead of having to read the whole book before he can write it down.  He was very happy about that.  It also makes it more comparable to the shorter books my daughter reads.

I told my daughter she can count the books that she reads out loud to us, but not the ones we read to her.   We will still help her with words she doesn't know, but she has to be trying to read most of the book on her own.   We started a couple of days ago and I'm so excited to say that she's much more willing to actually read!

So far, our summer reading club and journals are a big hit!   I'll post separately about the reading club at our library.  And I'll keep you posted on how our club and the journals go! 

Are your kids competitve?  How do you motivate them to read and write in the summer?  I'd love to hear your ideas! 

Happy organizing!

I link up at these great parties - Check them out!

Check out all my summer posts here!