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

Beat the Winter Blues with Julie Falatko's THE GREAT INDOORS

by Marci Whitehurst 

Is anyone else longing for spring? By the end of January, I’m ready for sunny spring days and green grass. Since I live in a place with long winters, it is usually a few months after this before we are outside doing yard work again.

Kids can play in winter weather, but if the temperatures are really low, they’re fighting colds, or
they’re just tired of putting on all their winter weather gear, it’s time for indoor fun.

READ: Julie Falatko’s book The Great Indoors, illustrated by Ruth Chan, is a silly book sure to help bust boredom! In this role reversal story, the forest animals come and camp out in a family’s house! While I’m sure it isn’t the family’s idea of indoor fun, the zany illustrations coupled with the animals doing what humans do, are sure to bring some laughs and inspire creative ideas. Once you’ve read the story, it’s time for fun inside activities of your own!

  • What animals live near you? What are their natural behaviors?
  • If you could be an animal, which animal would you be?
  • If you have a pet, what would your pet be like if they acted like a human?
DO: Here are 8 activities to consider for indoor fun. Which ones do you notice in the book?
  1. Cooking/Baking. Kids love to make things and with a little help, you will have a special snack. Even dipping strawberries in melted chocolate counts!
  2. Have a picnic inside. Spread a blanket down on the floor. Put a potted plant or flowers nearby to feel like you’re outside. Enjoy a picnic lunch!
  3. Host a concert. Kids love to sing. Grab a stool or wood crate for a stage and let them perform.
  4. Indoor bubbles. Bubbles may be messy, but if kids put on swimsuits and blow bubbles in the shower (water need not be on), the bubble solution will wash away when finished!
  5. Make your own puzzle. Using card stock, draw a picture together. Then cut it into kid-friendly pieces. Voila! A puzzle.
  6. Have a parade! Put on your craziest outfit or use dress up clothes and march down the hall—or to the neighbors if you’re in an apartment building. Offer candy, pencils, etc. to anyone watching.
  7. Dance Party! Turn on some tunes and boogie! I’m not a great dancer, but my kids didn’t care—they just liked to dance.
  8. Obstacle course: put some things on the floor—a broom, a box, a laundry basket—and have kids make their way around the obstacles. Consider added challenges such as crab walking or hopping! This can even be done with toy cars—like a race course.
Winter won’t last forever, but until spring comes, make the most of being stuck "in the great indoors"!

For more silly animal fun, check out:

Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places by Katie Frawley, illustrated by Laurie Stransfield