I've always been a voracious reader -- except for those sleep-deprived baby years when the book would drop from my hand the minute I opened it. (My reading consisted mostly of board books and picture books during that period.)
Somehow, in the way all parents do, I expected my children to imitate my habits, plopping down with a book whenever there's a free minute.
When they were young, I read to them every night. They'd pick out books from the small bookcase in their room that I had as a child, then back up to my waiting lap for story time. Trips to the library for new books were always a big event.
We still read together fairly regularly, and they're apt to pick up a book at bedtime. My son is a fan of - what else? - sports novels by John Feinstein and Mike Lupica, and anything from Rick Riordan. My daughter devours books from the Abby Hayes and Just Grace series, among others.
But often we run out of time because of various activities. Our library visits have dropped off as the kids got older and involved by other activities (and my work hours expanded).
And in the summer they'd just as soon go outside and hit baseballs, shoot hoops or ride their scooters, or check out something online.
University of Illinois Librarian Carol Tilley offers some advice on encouraging summer reading in this Q&A by the UI News Bureau.
Among her tips:
- Take your child to the library or bookstores regularly in the summertime (guilty as charged).
- Be a good role model by reading yourself and making reading a family activity.
- Don't discount other kinds of reading besides books, including comics, websites, newspapers and magazines.
Tilley also explores the expansive comic book genre in depth. For instance: 95 percent of American kids read comics regularly in the 1940s and 1950s -- a higher percentage than uses the Internet or plays video games today.
Here are links to the summer reading programs at the Champaign and Urbana libraries, which offer lots of suggestions and inventives to keep kids reading!
Julie Wurth blogs about kids and family issues and covers The University of Illinois for The News-Gazette. Her column, Are We There Yet?, runs every other Tuesday. Leave a comment below, or contact her at (217) 351-5226, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at twitter.com/jawurth.
Photo: Peter Ivanov Champaign reads a book during the 2004 summer Read-A-Thon for kindergarten through second grader's at the Champaign Public Libarary. The child who read the most books in 45 minutes won a bag of treats. Robin Scholz/ the News-Gazette