First posted at Momsrising.org
How can parents motivate kids to get outside and read this summer? We know that students can lose about a half to a full year of reading skills and comprehension over the summer, and that too many kids are staying inside on devices or screens. Summer is the perfect time for books that inspire kids to get outside and explore the nature around them.
Here are books of a wide range of student ages to jump start young readers and motivate them to develop a love of nature and the environment.
- Grades K-2: Treasure Town by Doug Wilhelm. This rollicking early reader is sure to engage your K-2 grade child. About buried treasure, pirates, maps and a giant boat? Yes please! The illustrations are delightful, engaging and humorous and the text is lively, exciting and fun. If you have a reluctant reader– or any young reader– they are sure to enjoy this book. I like that they feature the stories of female pirates as well– fighting sexism. These characters get outside and find adventure there.
- Grades 3-4: The Hidden Forest by Daintry Jensen. Daintry Jensen’s The Hidden Forest is a gem of a summer (or anytime, really) read. This whimsical book presents a spirited heroine in Adelaide. She is an adventurer, a wanderer, a girl with big dreams. We find her resigned to a boring summer in Nantucket only to discover a world waiting for her beyond anything she and her little brother could have imagined. The animal characters are particularly charming in their speech, humor and demeanor. My girls delighted in their descriptions. This book is not only a loving tribute to Nantucket (which is now on my must visit list) but to creativity, big imagination, and finding adventure right where you are.
- Grades 4-8: The Order of the Trees by Katy Farber (yours truly). Found as a baby, on a bed of moss under an old growth tree, Cedar’s beginning was a mystery. As she began her sixth grade year, Cedar resembled her namesake with her wild mane of brown hair, her sinewy body, and deer-like eyes. She makes her first true friend, a new student, Phillip, with whom she shares her special woodland spot along with the gifts it brings.This is my new middle grade novel (grades 4-8). I will let a most recent review share about this book: “My dad and I just finished reading this book. I think it is the best book ever! I think it had a great topic. I like adventure stories and this was quite an adventure. Cedar and Phillip were my favorite characters because they were brave. They also liked the forest and so do I! I was really scared when Cedar got sick, but I was really happy when she got better. I’m going to give a copy to my teacher next year!”
How do you inspire your kids read and get outside in the summer? If I notice the kids staying inside too long sometimes I proclaim: the inside is CLOSED! And I promptly chase them outside. Or we go do some outdoor activity together.
As far as summer reading, here are some tips for motivating kids. Do an author study. Have your child find a favorite author, read every book by that author possible, learn about the author’s life and write the author a letter. I love getting notes, art, emails and letters from readers and am happy to respond. Most authors are! Or, find a great series and challenge your child to finish the series by the end of the summer. Maybe offer a special treat if your child meets this goal. The Harry Potter series is a fabulous and ambitious goal for any reader.
What are your favorite books this summer with nature themes? What inspires your child to get outside and explore? Please share your thoughts on this post.