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Tara Sarathy's picture

For as long as I can remember, books have been my comfort and my refuge.  I was also incredibly lucky to grow up in a family where I was given many opportunities to be read to and interact with books and stories including over the summers.  But for many children, reading may not be as pleasurable and are at an increased risk for summer slide with respect to literacy skills including those child who are identified with a specific learning difference in reading, including dyslexia, those diagnosed with language impairments, and children whose reading performance is below level on established school benchmarks.


There are a number of great resources available to parents struggling with whether, how much and what kind of reading enrichment and remediation to do for their child or children do over the summer including:;; and


Research has also show that parent-child literacy activities can also have a positive impact on a child’s reading acquisition.  Finding a way to do this in a way that is engaging for you child, while enjoying a more relaxed schedule and that isn’t a burden or stress to parents is possible.


This spring, I attended a workshop led by Sarah Sayko of the National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL), on the NCIL’s new Kid Zone! which is meant to serve as a literacy “playground” for preschool through elementary aged children and their families with resources for adolescents forthcoming.  NCIL’s mission is “to increase access to, and use of, evidence-based approaches to screen, identify, and teach students with literacy-related disabilities, including dyslexia.”  You and your child can access free e-books, audiobooks, and stream videos of stories read aloud that can match their reading skills as well as introduce them to more advanced stories that match their imaginations on the Kid Zone!


As someone who not only loves to read but also to be read to, is skeptical of online games for children even educational ones, and the mother of two children who both love stories but often have different interests, finding one resource we all enjoy together is no always easy.  But we have loved using the Kid Zone! and in particular the video books.  For starters, the video books are read by members of the Screen Actors Guild, so are well read.  They also include screen shots of the picture books, sometimes in a slower motion that remind of the child appropriate, tempo and feel of the Paddington Bear cartoons of my childhood.  The video book feature has also introduced to new wonderful authors and books.


Amanda Noll ‘s Hey That’s My Monster, read by one of my all time favorite actresses, Lily Tomlin, enraptured my two boys.  Satoshi Kitamura’s Me and My Cat read by Elijah Wood diffused a post camp, h-angry moment, and gave me a few minutes to make a cup of tea and feed our own cats.  Patricia Polacco’s My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother read by Melissa Gilbert, (who played the role of Laura Ingalls in the television adaptation of Little House on the Prairie) had my younger son in stitches. I had meant to prep dinner and pack camp bags while they sat consuming video books, but I was enjoying them so much, I listened along too. I am still tentatively trying some of the recommended children’s video games like PBS Kids, Super Why, but we have all summer to experiment with this feature.


You can also check out NCIL’s literacy brief and infographic on Supporting Your Child’s Literacy Development at Home, use the Resource Repository to search for resources specifically designed for parents on topics like advocacy as well as use the Learning Literacy Glossary for activities, tools, and information that build off the Kid Zone at   Happy reading!




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