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JULY 28, 1997

Opinion

Parent Tips for Summer Reading

  Let's make this a summer with a family focus on reading. One of the important reasons to keep kids in a reading routine is to help halt the backslide that kids typically have when they're "vacationing" from school-time learning.
  
   Setting aside some time each day for reading activities helps a child to keep reading skills active. In addition to reading with your child in various ways, such as taking turns reading out loud, or quiet time with the television off and the whole family sitting together with individual books to read, there are other activities to help a child to closely focus on and understand story elements, and to communicate them.
  
   Here's one suggested activity to try with a child in grades three through six. It is from the booklet "Activities for Reading & Writing Fun" by Dr. Edward Kameenui and Dr. Deborah Simmon of the University of Oregon. The booklet, put out by the U.S. Department of Education, also has activities for younger children.
  
   Building Stories
  
   Stories are built in much the same way that houses are. Just as houses have floors, walls, and a roof, stories have some basic parts. Every story has characters (the people or animals in the story), a setting (the time and place the story occurs), a problem (a difficulty that the character(s) have to overcome and solve), and a resolution (a solution to the difficulty or problem). Knowing the parts of a story helps children understand the whole story. Here's what to do in this activity:
  
   Choose a short story, fable, or fairy tale for your child to read. You may want to read the story ahead of time to make sure it works for this activity.
  
   Make an outline on lined paper with the following parts:
   Title: ______
   Main Character: ________
   Setting: _________
   Problem: ________
   Resolution: _________
  
   Ask your child to read part of the story and to identify the character(s). 'Is Molly a character in the story? Is she a main character? Yes, the story is mostly about Molly and her science project. Let's write that on the sheet where it says main character.'
  
   Then ask your child to tell you where and when the story takes place (a town or city, state or country, today or in the past). This is the setting of the story.
  
   Then, after your child reads about half of the story, stop and say, 'What is the problem the main character of this story is facing or having? Let's write that on the sheet where it says problem.'
  
   When your child finishes the story, ask the child how the problem in the story was worked out. Say, 'that is the resolution of the story. Let's write tghat on the sheet.'
  
   To get a copy of this activity booklet, check with your local library or call 1-800-USA-LEARN.
  
   This column is provided as a public service by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, a nonprofit institution working with schools and communities in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.