Ten Reason Your Kids Should Participate in a Summer Reading Program

by Rebecca J. Gomez When my kids were young, summer reading programs were a sure thing. For the most part, my children were avid readers, especially my girls. A summer reading program wasn't necessary to encourage them to read, but we participated because it was a fun addition to summer. And the free pizza, books, and water park tickets definitely didn't hurt! There are lots of reasons to participate in a summer reading program or challenge, and here are ten of them: 1. Many summer reading programs offer prizes. And while we all know that reading is its own reward, some kids haven't figured that out yet. For those kids, a prize is just the incentive they need to stick their noses in a book now and then over the summer. 2. It's a fun way to reward those kids who will be reading no matter what! 3. For some families, trips to the library may help break up summer monotony.  4. Summer reading programs promote reading together as a family, especially for those with very young

Ten Tips for Reading with Pets!

by Rebecca J. Gomez

Reading aloud to a pet can be a fun way to become a stronger reader. A pet won't judge you or correct you for making a mistake, which can help you build confidence. Also, pets love the special attention, especially when reading is paired with belly rubs, snuggles, or treats! So, read with your pets, and keep these tips in mind so that everything goes well.

1. Be sure your pet is calm enough for story time. You may need to tire them out with a walk, a game, or a training exercise first.

2. Pick a cozy spot! Dogs love the bed or a comfy couch. A cat might want prefer a lap or a sunny spot on the carpet. A bird or lizard might like to sit on your shoulder or even your head!

3. Choose titles appropriate for your specific pet. Here are a few pet-specific recommendations:
  • For cats: Frederick by Leo Lionni, Another by Christian Robinson
  • For dogs: Dogku by Andrew Clements, This is a Squirrel Taco by Andrew Cangelose, illustrated by Josh Shipley
  • For birds: Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez
  • For reptiles and amphibians: The Yucky Reptile Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Ralph Masiello, A Hippy-Hoppy Toad by Peggy Archer, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
  • For small mammals: Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord, illustrated by Derek Anderson
  • For fish: Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Tim Bowers, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Suess
4. Books are treats, but not THAT kind of treat. Be sure to keep your pet's teeth, claws, or beaks away from the pages. Drool is a no-no too!

5. Give your antsy pet a toy to play with while you read. Sometimes it helps them be better listeners!

6. Always give your pet a reward for participating in story time. 

7. Never read a cat a book about wanting a dog for a pet. He may be highly offended!

8. If your cat and dog aren't getting along, encourage togetherness with stories about cats and dogs, such as Stop, Go, Yes, No! by Mike Twohy or Wonton and Chopstick by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. 

9. If you read a book with a refrain to a parrot often enough, they might learn to repeat it! But take care. Birds can be startled by fluttering book pages. Turn pages slowly!

10. No pet? No problem! A stuffed animal will do. Or a friend's pet. Or even a younger sibling. Just don't reward your little sister with a dog biscuit! 

Come back next week for Snack and Story Time: Dog Edition!