Start with a book and launch a young reader this summer
For more than a decade, Reading Rockets, the award-winning national multimedia literacy initiative from WETA Public Broadcasting, has provided parents and educators with information and free resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help. In 2012, Reading Rockets introduced Start with a Book, a companion website that uses books as a launching pad for exploration, conversation, and real world learning adventures.
To ward off the learning loss that many children experience over the summer, Start with a Book offers adults engaging, research-based ideas for getting kids into books all summer and beyond. The free resources from Start with a Book build on what young children already like — dinosaurs, building, animals, sports, superheroes and music — so that parents, camp counselors, and others can have fun and interact meaningfully with children while helping to strengthen their reading skills.
In this section:
What you'll find on the Start with a Book website
- Twenty-four kid-friendly themes featuring specific ideas for using books and related downloadable activities to build closer relationships with children and to get them thinking, talking, creating and exploring.
- Practical suggestions for using reading time to build a child's reading fluency — the ability to read a book or other text correctly, quickly, and with expression — with an opportunity to measure progress over the course of the summer.
- A highlighted list of places to go and things to do in Washington DC and ideas for connecting reading with other summer activities.
- Tips for parents in English, Spanish, and nine other languages to support English language learners.
- A sign-up for weekly text messages — delivered right to your mobile phone — in English or Spanish.
While designed with families in mind, Start with a Book also has a place in libraries and summer camps. Local organizations working with children in kindergarten through third grade are encouraged to take advantage of these free resources and adapt activities to group use.
If you're a parent, here's how to use Start with a Book
- What does my child love to see, explore, and learn about? If you have a young detective, explorer, artist, athlete or superhero at home or a child fascinated by dinosaurs, planes, bugs, birds, building, animals, the moon and stars, tall tales, music, money, nature, water, or thunder and lightning, you'll find a summer theme that matches his curiosities and interests.
- When you've selected your theme, you'll be directed to great fiction and nonfiction titles about your theme, hands-on activities that support reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, and links to other great websites and apps with related content. Decide which activities you'd like to try and make sure you have the materials you need on hand.
- Print a book list and head to the library to pick up recommended titles. Bring your child along and sign up for your library's summer reading program. If you are visiting a DC public library, ask the children's librarian for your Start with a Book bookmark.
- Before you start reading together, check back in with the website for tips on reading aloud, including dialogic reading techniques, comprehension strategies, and fluency.
- Start reading! When you know you'll have at least 20 minutes, grab your child and a book, and dive right in. Talk about the cover of the book with your child. Can he guess what it is about? Have they ever read a book by the same author or about the same topic? Read the book to your child. Take time to ask and answer questions, explore the pictures, and wonder together what will happen next.
- As you are reading, or afterward, talk with your child about characters or facts you find interesting or questions you have. Keep the conversation going as you begin one of the activities with hands-on learning or make-believe fun. Exploring new ideas alongside you lets your child see you learning-and reading-too, and gives your child personal experiences to support his growing knowledge.
- Get out into your community and visit local museums, nature centers, festivals, historic sites, and more to extend the learning.
- Choose more themes and more books for an entire summer's worth of discovery.
About Reading Rockets
Reading Rockets is a national multimedia literacy initiative of WETA Public Broadcasting. We offer information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help. In addition to Start with a Book, the Reading Rockets project includes PBS television programs (also available online and on DVD); online services through ReadingRockets.org and the bilingual site ColorinColorado.org; professional development opportunities; and a robust social community on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest. The project is guided by an advisory panel made up of leading researchers and experts in the field of reading. The major funder for the Reading Rockets project is the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.
The Park Foundation, Inc.
Start with a Book is made by possible with generous support from the Park Foundation, Inc. The Foundation is dedicated to the aid and support of education, public broadcasting, environment, and other areas.