Award-winning children’s book author Robert Munsch does something very unique when he creates his entertaining stories. He uses children’s actual experiences as his source of inspiration, unleashes his own imagination and creates lively and outrageous stories that appeal to parents and children, alike. In creating his stories, he tells them to live audiences of children at daycares, schools and libraries and observes how the children react. He engages his readers with humour and invites them to participate in authoring his books and by doing so, he is practicing Bibliopsychology: the study of psychology of readers.

And, over the summer, you and your children could become skilled bibliopsychologists by exploring what kinds of books your children like to read and reading books together.

As a tutor, I enjoy learning what subjects my students are interested in and finding books that suit their interests. Non-fiction, fact-based books about discoveries, ancient civilizations and biographies, are very popular, as are fiction books with colourful illustrations and good story lines. In all cases, I read the books aloud to my students. To keep the reading experience enjoyable, The Open Door recommends reading to your child. Do not push a struggling or reluctant reader to read. With targeted reading and spelling remediation help, a child’s reading will gradually improve and they will be able to read independently in time. Until the child reaches this point, reading aloud to them will cultivate a sense of enjoyment about learning and generate conversations about what is being read.

In addition to scheduling frequent—and possibly more—reading and spelling tutoring sessions to enhance and sustain your child’s learning all summer long, reading aloud to your child will also prevent the “learning slide” that inevitably happens over the summer break. Whether you’re on a stay-cation, road trip, camping or relaxing at the cottage, reading to your children is the perfect opportunity to engage and learn with them in a calm and comfortable environment. In addition, these settings present plenty of time and space for thinking, exploring, questions, discussions and creative ideas.

Dig a little deeper into the books you read to your child

Beyond reading a story together, take a closer look inside the front and back covers of the books you are reading and learn more about:

  • The author and the illustrator (sometimes the author and illustrator are the same person)
  • Why the book was written
  • Who the book is dedicated to
  • The purpose of a table of contents (if it is a chapter book)
  • When and where the book was first published? How many times has it been reprinted? If it’s been republished several times, why do you think it is so popular?

After reading the story…

  • Would you like to know more about the author or illustrator? Check them out online…maybe you could invite them to give a presentation at your school or local library. Tip: Visit the book publisher’s website for bios and information on their authors and illustrators. KidsCanPress is a good Canadian publisher site to start with.
  • Did the style of illustrations appeal to you?
  • What medium did the illustrator use in the pictures: pastels, acrylic, collage, watercolours, modelling clay? Could you use the same materials to recreate a scene from the story yourself?
  • Does the title of the book describe the story? If not, what would you have named the story?
  • Overall, did the story make sense? If there was something you didn’t like about the book, how might you change it?
  • Would you recommend this book to your friends? If yes, what would you tell them about? How would you rate it on a scale of one to ten?
  • Could you and your friends create a play based on the story?  This presents all kinds of creative opportunities to make costumes, build sets, learn teamwork and performing skills and how to promote and sell tickets to the show.

To encourage your children to keep reading ALL summer long, visit your local library on a regular basis to refresh your supply of borrowed and keep up the variety. A librarian from the Ruth E. Dickinson branch of the Ottawa Public Library recommends that parents let their children explore the books on display, note the kinds of books the children show an interest in—and don’t turn down picture-books as being “babyish.” If a child enjoys drawing for instance, the illustrations in picture books could be exactly what appeals to them. She also recommends continuing reading aloud to your child—even when they can read independently. The shared experience of enjoying a story together is memorable and, if a chapter book is slightly above the child’s reading level, having a parent read and interpret the expressions or nuances, is very helpful.

Sign up for the 2019 TD Summer Reading Club at the public library

To encourage children to read all summer long, The Ottawa Public Library (OPL) is now promoting its 2019 TD Summer Reading Club and this year’s theme is Nature. It’s free and to get involved, you may register at your local library with your OPL library card.  Each OPL branch hosts activities and promotes different incentives to encourage children to read. Check out this site for activities and more about the program: 2019 TD Summer Reading Club

NOTE: To get an OPL library card, visit your local branch and ask the librarian to help sign you up. To find a branch near you, visit Listing of Ottawa Public Library Branches Best of all, the library card is free. Once you have a card you can borrow to your hearts content at the library or place orders online to check out items from the entire OPL collection of books, e-books, audio books, videos, games, dvds, and also sign up for other upcoming library programs and events. 

To help get you started on your Summer Reading journey, I have compiled book suggestions from one of my students’ families, links to OPL collections and staff picks lists, and other recommended reading lists. Enjoy your Summer Reading!

The Noreau Family (thank you to Xavier and Felix) recommend:

  • Books by author Rick Riordan including Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Magnus Chase and the Kane Chronicles and…
  • Wings of Fire is a series of over ten graphic novel series authored Tui Sutherland
  • The Day the Crayons Quit Also introduced to me by the Noreau Family and chosen as The Globe and Mail’s favourite book of the year in 2018, Top 200 Kids Books. 

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids and Teens

From CBC Books:

This is a guide to Canadian picture books, middle-grade books and YA books that are coming out in the first half of 2019.

Ottawa Public Library (OPL)

Chris Hadfield Inspiring New Generations to Explore Space

By Dakers, Diane

Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-soaking Stream of Inventions

By Barton, Chris

Markus “Notch” Persson Creator of Minecraft

Orr, Tamra

The Hole Story of the Doughnut

Miller, Pat

Samurai Rising

The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune

Turner, Pamela S

Jars of Hope

How One Woman Helped Save 2,500 Children During the Holocaust

Roy, Jennifer

Just A Lucky So and So

The Story of Louis Armstrong

Cline-Ransome, Lesa

The Fantastic Ferris Wheel

The Story of Inventor George Ferris

Kraft, Betsy Harvey

Malala Yousafzai

Doak, Robin S., 1963-

The Boy Who Loved Math

The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös

Heiligman, Deborah

When the Beat Was Born

DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop

Hill, Laban Carrick

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Kamkwamba, William, 1987-

Ibn Al-Haytham The Man Who Discovered How We See

Romero, Libby

Leontyne Price Voice of A Century

Weatherford, Carole Boston

Enjoy your summer and see you at the Library!

Marion May is the Blog Curator and Content Writer for The Open Door blog as well as a reading and spelling tutor for The Open Door, tutoring children between the ages of seven and 10. Her blog content is “local, organic and specific” and is relevant for parents of children with dyslexia.

Marion formerly tutored teenaged students in a literacy remediation program at Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School in Ottawa. She also worked as a paid fundraiser and grant proposal writer for The Excellence in Literacy Foundation, a national non-profit aimed at helping marginalized youth. She began her career in radio broadcasting and news writing and has worked in the area of promotional writing for several federal government departments and agencies, including the National Research Council.

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