“The universe isn’t made of atoms. It is made of stories.”

~ Muriel  Rukeyser ~

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Science surrounds us. Thanks to advances in science and technology, the world today would be almost unrecognizable to people living just a century ago.  But before there was science, there were stories. This summer, children in Connecticut and across the country will be reading stories, real and fictional, about animals, oceans, and rockets. They’ll read about the creative minds behind the discoveries, large and small, that have shaped our world. And they’ll be reading about ordinary kids whose curiosity and wonder take them on amazing adventures.

Science is very clear about the importance of reading, especially over the summer. Not only does reading build vocabulary, improve concentration, memory, and creativity, it also helps us develop empathy and interpersonal skills. Students who read at least 20 minutes a day will have read for the equivalent of 60 school days by the end of sixth grade!

There are several easy steps parents can take to encourage their children to read this summer:

  • Start by helping your child find books about topics that interest them.
  • Visit your local library. Librarians are happy to help children find good books, and chances are good that they will be sponsoring a summer reading program.
  • Show an interest in what your child is reading by asking questions about the books they’re reading.
  • Magazines are also a great option.
  • Set aside time each day for “family reading time.” By reading yourself, you’ll be setting a good example.
  • Reading aloud, even if your child is old enough to read on their own, is another way to encourage your child’s reading habit.
  • Don’t forget audiobooks! These are always a good choice, especially if you’ll be traveling.

Many booklists are available to help you and your child locate entertaining titles. The Connecticut State Library has created several, organized by grade level:

Nominees for The Nutmeg Award, Connecticut’s state book award, are also good choices. Lists of nominated books for the 2015 award can be found here.

TeachingBooks.net and the Collaborative Summer Library Program have an extensive list for all ages available here.

The American Library Association also has grade level lists available:

Kate DiCamillo, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, shared her suggestions for great summer reads on NPR recently.

No matter which books your child chooses, remember DiCamillo’s wise words: “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.”

Happy reading!