A fantastic way to help your child build the background knowledge and vocabulary they need to succeed as a reader is to learn together. As a family, you can use the summer months to explore your child’s interests more deeply than you might be able to during the rush of the school year. Here are some places we look for inspiration:
Podcasts are our kids’ favorite ways to learn more when we are on the go! Check out these podcasts that will engage and inform your child. Brains On! from American Public Media is great for the curious family. With episodes about science, nature, and history there is something for everyone. Adults and children love Brains On! If you are looking for something bite-sized, try their new spin-off, Moment of Um. If your family is interested in history, check out Forever Ago. I can’t wait to listen to the latest episode, Mac and Cheese: From “What’s in these?” to “Yes, please!”
Wonderopolis provides a Wonder of the Day. Today’s Wonder #1009 Do Starfish Glow in the Dark? includes written text that can be accessed using the Immersive Reader link. There is also a writing prompt, a craft, and a link to a National Geographic video Sunflower Seastar. Wonderopolis is searchable by topic so that you can find Wonders of interest to your family. I will provide a link to the Wonder of the Day on my website Sanddollartutoring.com, so check back often.
The Who Was Show on Netflix is great for older kids. This live action comedy sketch show brings famous names from world history to life including Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Louis Armstrong, and others. Giving children a peek into topics they will be exposed to in the future can be really powerful.
Audiobooks from your local library or Audible can be a parent’s best friend when traveling by car, train, or plane. They are a great bridge to grade-level (and beyond) content learning for striving readers, too. Check out audiobooks set in the place you are headed or around summer themes such as the beach or sea animals to add to learn about your destination. A great choice if you are heading to the beach is the Mary Alice Monroe series The Islanders and Search for Treasure. We have a family book club using The Islanders this summer. Nonfiction series I recommend are the National Geographic Readers Series available on Epic! with a Read to Me feature, or at your local library in hard copy or as eBooks. I haven’t found anything else of this quality in all the years I have been teaching!
Did you know that many eBooks have an Immersive Reading feature? Your child can read the book while listening if the book has this function. This can be especially engaging on the Kindle Fire using an Audible book and the companion eBook. Be sure to download eBooks with the Whispersync feature. Read more here: Whispersync for Kindle.
It is really a challenge to identify books for the earliest readers that are about “real” things. One wonderful source is Half-Pint Readers, a free source for online books grouped by decoding skills. Each skill has a theme, such as Forest Fun or Digging Up Dinosaurs. These simple books are wonderful practice for striving readers. I would recommend reading each theme in order to build background knowledge sequentially.
Remember, building background knowledge and vocabulary is essential for our striving readers to progress. Conversations about what your child is reading and learning can flow naturally during your summer adventures. Enjoy the journey with your readers!