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Grandparents to the Rescue! Save Your Grandchildren from the Summer Reading Slump

By Eve Panzer June 14, 2021 Family

Summer means an escape from the rigid schedule and dedicated study that school imposes – a time to have fun. However, exploring and expanding knowledge through reading should continue year-round.

Barefoot Books state this:

“…children lose an average of 1-3 months of learning over the summer. Summer learning loss is even more of a threat after a year of disrupted childcare and school experiences. School-age children, preschoolers, and even infants and toddlers need intellectual stimulation over the summer in order for their brains to grow optimally. Research tells us that the best way to do this is to keep them reading all summer long.” 

Stimulating Grandchildren to Read

As grandparents, you can make reading and learning exciting – even during the lazy days of summer! One way to do this is to create a summer reading program with your grandchildren. Pick topics you are knowledgeable about or subjects of interest to your grandchildren so you can learn together. Find books and create entertaining activities that relate to your themes – and have fun!

However, some of you may not have the time to make a DIY summer reading program for your grandchildren. Fortunately, the independent children’s book publisher Barefoot Books is offering a free summer reading program. Once you sign up, you will have access to free resources, ready-made activities, tips, and a 20% discount (valid through June 30, 2021) on books and subscription book boxes.

Each month will have a different theme, such as mindfulness, STEAM learning, kindness, and global awareness. Below are the topics for June.

Ages 0 – 2: Explore the Outdoors!

Ages 3 – 5: Outdoor Discovery

Ages 6 – 9: Maker Kids

To tie in with the monthly themes, you can check books out from your local library or buy age-appropriate books from your local independent bookstores or Barefoot Books.

Reading, just like any skill, requires consistent practice. Unfortunately, summer reading is a chore and a bore for some kids, so they slack off. But adding yourselves to the mix might be just the ingredient needed to make summer reading fun and engaging for your grandchildren!

Ages 0 – 2 years

Listen, Listen by Allison Jay

Listen, Listen

Listen, Listen is a lovely lapboard book that takes the readers on a journey through the seasons. It is not only a celebration of sounds. Beautifully detailed pictures by renowned artist Allison Jay (known for unique style and perspectives) are a feast for the eyes. There is so much to see and talk about with your young grandchildren.

Out of the Blue by Allison Jay

Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue is another gem from the children’s book illustrator Allison Jay. It is a wordless book that gives you and your grandchildren the opportunity to use your creativity and imagination. Guess what the storm will bring up from the ocean.

You will help your grandchildren “…develop visual literacy, boost vocabulary – and think about the importance of marine conservation and being a friend to animals. Includes educational notes about marine life, tide pools, lighthouses and more.”

Ages 3 – 5 Years

Poop! by Beatriz Gimenez de Ory

Poop!

Poop! is a book about a subject that fascinates young children because it is gross and funny to talk about. However, this book turns the topic into a science lesson. Through a series of riddles, children learn what animal produced the pictured poop.

Tiered layers lift to reveal answers to the riddles, making the book interactive and entertaining. The text is lyrical and rich. Endnotes contain facts about the poop from different animals “…and its purpose in the ecosystem.”

A Rainbow of Rocks by Kate DePalma

A Rainbow of Rocks

A Rainbow of Rocks contains photos that depict the vibrant colors of rocks and minerals. Using color as a springboard, the author uses “lyrical, rhyming text” to inform readers about rocks and minerals. Endnotes provide more details for your curious grandchildren.

Skip Through the Seasons by Stella Blackstone

Skip through the Seasons

Skip Through the Seasons is rich with layers of learning. This book gives each month a two-page spread depicting the prevalent weather during that month. The illustrations are bright, engaging, and replete with details.

Skip Through the Seasons is an interactive seek-and-find book containing terms on each page that children can locate in the illustrations – a great feature for emergent readers. The vocabulary is lyrical, leaves descriptive and rich: “Whirl into March…the wind is whistling down the street.” “Jive into July.” “Sweep into November…leaves are dancing as they fall.”

Endnotes include information about different calendars, including Babylonian, Roman, Aztec, and Ancient Egypt; names of the days of the week in French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Anglo-Saxon; the derivation of the names of the months; and a scientific explanation of the changing seasons. So much to talk about with your grandchildren!

Ages 6 – 9 Years

Chandra’s Magic Light by Theresa Heine

Chandra's Magic Light

Chandra’s Magic Light is a multi-layered book. Teach your grandchildren about the value of optimism, persistence, resilience, and empathy through this cultural tale set in Nepal. Chandra’s journey to replace her family’s kerosene lantern with a solar-powered one is the perfect springboard for discussing environmental issues.

Create a math activity by comparing the cost of items in Nepalese Rupees to US Dollars. The language is rich and lyrical, and the story is “…brought to life with luminous acrylic illustrations of the mountains and markets of Nepal.”

Endnotes include pages of factual details about Nepal’s mountains, rivers, weather, religion, and more. Also included is a fun science-based activity to do with your grandchildren – creating a solar-powered oven. Use the oven for cooking a recipe together.

The Bread Pet by Kate dePalma

The Bread Pet

A perfect summer book, The Bread Pet tells the story of a young girl taking care of her uncle’s bread pet (sourdough starter) while he goes on vacation. At first, the girl does not understand why her uncle calls it a pet. However, she soon learns that the bread, like a pet, needs constant care and feeding because of microscopic entities growing in it.

But the uncle leaves out one critical instruction for his bread pet, and soon the bread pet grows out of control. In this warm tale, a young girl demonstrates responsibility, problem-solving, and empathy for her community.

The Bread Pet offers opportunities to introduce a variety of topics. Math skills such as exponential growth and measurement are introduced and can be further explored. For the curious young scientist, you can delve deeper into the concepts of bacteria, fungi, microbes, and fermentation mentioned in the story.

The story also is diverse and inclusive, featuring a main character who wears glasses and is part of a same-sex family. And the endnotes include instructions for making your own sourdough starter and sourdough bread. Add in fun and whimsical illustrations, and you have the perfect recipe for a delicious book!

The Beeman by Laurie Krebs

The Beeman

The Beeman opens with a sweet rhyming poem about bees. Then, mimicking the style of “The House That Jack Built,” the grandson follows his grandfather, the beekeeper, as he tends to his bees. Bits of information about bees and the process of beekeeping are sprinkled throughout the book, with key terms bolded. These tidbits are discussed in fascinating detail at the end of the book. The illustrations are playful, and the pages are not text-heavy, making it easy to share with younger children too.

This book can lead to so many activities with your grandchildren. For example, visiting a beekeeper in your area is fun and educational. Bees are vital to the health of our planet and are a relevant topic to discuss with your grandchildren.

Did you know that the taste of honey varies with the environment in which it was made? Have a honey-tasting activity with your grandchildren. Your farmer’s market or specialty grocery should have kinds of honey from different locations that will vary widely in taste.

Do you take part in your grandchildren’s summer reading? Have you prepared a list of books to read together? What’s on your list? Are you in need of help picking up relevant titles? Please share how you engage your grandchildren in the summer.

Let's Have a Conversation!

The Author

Eve Panzer, a retired school librarian, is passionate about children's literature. Through her Barefoot Librarian business, she sells quality children's books and writes book reviews for First Chapter Plus, Readers Views, and BlueInk Review. She has a Masters in Library Science and has been a children's literature professional since 1999.

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