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Dos and don'ts for getting kids to read.

TEACHER LIBRARIAN GRATEFULLY ACKNOWLEDGES THE SEATTLE TIMES FOR PERMISSION TO REPRINT THIS ARTICLE IN ITS ENTIRETY, WHICH APPEARED IN THE JULY 1, 2006, EDITION.

For many young kids, reading a book is like taking a bath: It's hard to get them in, but once there, it's nearly impossible to get them out.

With TV, computers, and video games an easy distraction, parents have to work a little harder to entice kids with books during the summer. But experts emphasize tons of benefits as kids explore literary worlds and keep up vital academic skills.

So how to do it?

Librarians offer the same advice for all ages: Keep a wide variety of books available. Check out your local library's summer reading program for activities and prizes. Ask for recommendations. "We live, eat, and breathe books and can share lists of show-stoppers for kids to read," enthused Sharon Chastain, a King County Library System children's librarian.

Here are more ideas by age group:

PRESCHOOL AND YOUNGER

Do

* keep lots of books everywhere, such as in the baby bag, in the car, or next to the sofa. "Anywhere your baby can see them and grab them," notes the King County Library System's Ready To Read project.

* let babies and toddlers hold the book. Help them find the front, back, top, and bottom.

* look for books that tell stories in rhyme or song.

* help kids make their own books by drawing and writing a simple story. Take dictation; let them write easy words.

* find projects from literature. Bake a recipe mentioned in a book. Or read the Three Little Pigs, then build your own model house. Use a fan to see if the house will stand or fall.

* read what you love. "Children will develop their favorites, but parents should read stories they like or remember fondly from their own childhoods, too," said Chance Hunt, youth-services coordinator for the Seattle Public Library. "Your love for a particular story will come through in your reading, and children will enjoy the stories more."

* visit one of the new KCLS early-literacy learn/play modules. Located in the Woodinville, Sammamish, lssaquah, Skyway, and Federal Way regional libraries, these free-standing structures feature literacy learning tools on one side and niches for reading selected books on the other.

Don't

* worry about chewed books. "The books will find your baby's mouth, but they will also find his heart," assures KCLS.

* be surprised if you read the same book over and over, and still hear demands of "Again !"

* feel pressured to use silly voices, or even read all of the words on the page. "It is more important to read with enjoyment and pleasure than it is to put on a performance for your kids," Hunt notes.

* be compelled to read in 20-minute blocks. "This shouldn't be a forced march," advised Hunt. Break it into small pieces: Share a story during breakfast, read a quiet bedtime story. "Taking cues from your child and grabbing reading moments will keep it fun for both of you."

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Do

* read a book, then watch the movie version together. A current example is Hoot, based on Carl Hiaasen's Newbery Honor Book.

* tie a book into an activity. For example, read about the history of baseball or a favorite player before catching a game. Pick up a book about seashells or tidepool creatures for a beach trip.

* take a book on an outing so kids can discover the joys of reading outside. Bring pillows and lay a blanket on the grass.

* read out loud. Even if kids know how to read, pick something a bit above their ability.

* listen to books on tape or CD on driving vacations. If you have a struggling reader, consider audio books anytime. "When kids get stuck in the hard work of learning to read they miss the magic of reading," Chastain noted. "Letting a book on tape do the hard work leaves the child free to enjoy the experience."

* start a book club with family or friends. "A family reading the same books has something in common to talk about, and each person's perspective or ideas about a story is valuable," Hunt said. "Discussion about books inevitably leads to larger conversations."

Don't

* just stick with old favorites. Try a new genre, with help from a library or children's bookseller.

* make reading a chore or burden. "Then the benefits are lost," Chastain noted.

* dismiss reading except from a traditional book. Technical manuals (about computer programming, for example), comic books, and skateboarding magazines count, too, said Rosalie Olds, teen-services librarian at King County's Fairwood Library.

TEENS

Do

* talk to your teens about what they're reading and what they like. "Give them a chance to gush about their favorite new manga (Japanese comic) series," suggests J. Marin Younker, teen-services librarian at Seattle's Central Library.

* get a subscription to their favorite magazine.

Don't

* judge content. "Like adults, teens enjoy beach reads during the summer, especially after a school year of analyzing the classics," Younker said.

* assume teens have outgrown the library. The Seattle Public Library, for example, will offer teen-targeted summer programs, such as anime showings and doughnut drop-ins.

READING RESOURCES

American Library Association: Tips and recommended book lists. www.ala.org/ala/alsc/alscresources/summer reading.

For teens, try www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists.

Reading is Fundamental: Summer reading tips, plus links to reading lists and award-winners, www.rif.org/coordinators/articles/ what can families_do.mspx.

Sasquatch Reading Award: Washington Media Library Association lets students in grades 4-8 pick their favorite book from a list of nominees. Kids can start reading online from the 2007 list now at www.wlma.org/Association/sasquatch.htm. For younger students (kindergarten through third grade), there's the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award (www.wlma.org/Association/wccpba.htm).

Teen recommendations: Reading lists for teens by genre, www.spl.org/default.asp ?pagelD=audience_teens_categorybrowser.

E-mail Seattle Public Library's Teen Center, teencenter@spl.org, for personalized reading recommendations. In the King County Library System, go to www.kcls.org/teens for librarian book recommendations by grade level or genre.

Teen Reads: Teen book reviews and author interviews, www.teenreads.com.

Sources: Reading Is Fundamental; www.pbs .org/parents/readinglanguage; Brighton School; King County Library System; The Seattle Public Library

Copyright [c] 2006 The Seattle Times Company. Used with permission.

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compiled by Stephanie dunnewind | Seattle Times staff reporter
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