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Start with a Book

Ricky Rocket

Books and activities for summer reading and learning from Reading Rockets

Start With a Book: Books and activities for summer reading and summer learning

Use Summer Fun to Build Background Knowledge

young boy looking in to the face of a turtle

When kids have lots of experiences to draw on, they have a better chance of making a connection with what they read! Help kids build background knowledge this summer with these activities.

You don't need to have a book in hand to help children become better readers. Interesting experiences give kids a broader framework for new information they might encounter in books, and when kids have lots of experiences to draw on, they have a better chance of making a connection with what they read! Help kids build background knowledge this summer with these activities.

Three steps to help build background knowledge this summer

Step 1: Take summer field trips

Go to the park, the zoo, the aquarium, a sports event, a historical landmark, or a children's museum. Go on a hike or to a natural attraction in your area. When you're indoors, watch a TV program about volcanoes or the rainforest or marsupials, or use the web to take a virtual field trip to a faraway place.

Step 2: Talk about it

Talk about the plants and animals you see, or the rules of a game, or the history of your town, or the new things you learned. Ask questions that get your child to talk, like "If you could be one of those animals we saw today, which one would you be?" or "Why do you think those boulders were shaped like that?"

Step 3: Follow up with a book

Find out what interests your child, and visit the library to get more information. Check out books about butterflies or basketball players or whatever caught your child's attention. Encourage their learning with comments like, "That was cool to see the inside of a computer at the museum today. Let's learn more about that."

You could even have your children create their own book, with photos or illustrations of your activity and their own commentary. This is great writing practice and makes a wonderful summer memory book.

Building background knowledge isn't just fun, it's also a great way to spend your summer!

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