Make reading a part of summer plans

Published 5:31 pm Wednesday, May 28, 2003

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP - Managing Editor
If there is one day that can compete with Christmas and birthdays - in terms of filling a child with anticipation and excitement - it would have to be the last day of school. Even as adults the memory of cleaning out a locker or watching as the textbooks evaporated from desks is one many of us can remember as if it was yesterday. I specifically recall me and my sister getting off the bus and running toward the house singing the once-popular "School's out! School's out! Teacher wore her bloomers out!" song. The celebrations change from generation to generation, and even one year to the next, but there is no doubt that students of all ages look forward to the almost-mythical time known as summer.
Depending on their age, students will fill their summer days doing a wide variety of things. Younger children may ride their bikes around the neighborhood or try to get enough players together for a decent baseball game. Middle school kids may watch summer from their windows as they chat on the phone and try to talk their folks into taking them shopping. Teenagers will cruise around town as they listen to the radio and take up summer jobs.
While summer is a great time to be a kid, students and parents should not completely tune out as they wait for the next "first day of school." One activity that should be a part of every student's summer itinerary is reading. By opening a book students can fill some of those lazy summer days in a way that is enjoyable and entertaining.
When we consider the number of hours that students will have on their hands it seems that reading would be a perfect response to the "I'm bored" syndrome that comes after a few weeks of vacant days and 90-degree temperatures.
We don't need research - although it is documented - to know that students suffer a backslide in reading skills during the summer months. It's obvious that between little league games, pool parties, shopping and other activities, most kids are wasting countless hours watching television or playing video games.
Parents must play a leading role in helping their children understand the importance of reading. The better a student reads the better that student will perform in any other school subject. The more a student reads the better that student will comprehend instructions. The wider variety of things a student reads the more that student will understand culture, history, science, religion, love, hate, and every other thing under the sun. These things are too important for parents to sit idly by as their child clicks through the television channels or surfs the internet. A parent has every right to challenge their student to spend time each day reading.
There is little excuse for children not reading. We are blessed in Brewton to have a top-notch library which possesses countless volumes for all ages. The Internet can also serve as a great resource from which parents can print history's greatest poems, short stories and other literary works. In fact, there are a number of summer reading lists that are posted at
Parents challenge your student to read at least three age-appropriate books this summer. It doesn't have to be Shakespeare. Let the child pick the books they want to read. But, let them know that reading is important, whether they are in the classroom or not.