Summer vacation is just around the corner and teachers and librarians are freaking out. It has nothing to do with lost books or late report cards. It has everything to do with reading. After spending months working to get students into the habit of reading, myself and many of my colleagues are concerned that much of that hard work (on both sides) will be undone by two months of (much needed) summer distractions. To help students keep reading in the summer, I’ve been showcasing several websites with my K-6 students to encourage to keep those reading skills sharp. Below is a list of five of the best websites to help kids keep up their reading this summer.
1. TPL Summer Reading Club
When schools let out for the summer, thankfully it’s Public Libraries to the rescue! Across the country, public libraries in every town and city are having summer reading programs. I live in Toronto, so I’ve been directing my students to the Toronto Public Library’s Summer Reading Club website.
I took it for a test drive with Grades 3 – 5 in my library and it had unanimous approval from the kids. There are scavenger hunts to play and silly stories to write to unlock codes. There’s even a collection of hilarious (if your 8 yrs old) jokes. Kids can even submit their own jokes. Best of all is the book finder feature that asks you a series of questions to hone in on an ideal book for you. Send your students to the Summer Reading Club website to get their summer book journey started.
TVOkids.com is another hugely popular site in our library, both with kids and teachers. While it is designed around supporting their TV programming, TVO has also worked closely with educators to create fun games that reinforce many of the skills we’re teaching them in class. From safe multiplayer games to ideas for summer art projects, TVOkids.com is a fun, safe space that’s perfect to keep kids 11 years and under busy on those rainy summer days.
3. Robert Munsch’s Website
Legendary kids author and storyteller, Robert Munsch has updated his website, robertmunsch.com and made it a perfect spot for young readers to visit this summer. Munsch has listed all of his books on the site and best of all, each book has an audio version that’s free to download. From Paperbag Princess to I Love You Forever, and beyond parents and guardians can now download a Robert Munsch story onto their mp3 player of choice and have a collection of stories perfect for any road trip. Check out all the stories at robertmunsch.com
4. PBS Kids
PBSkids.org is kids site built around their branded content, but like TVO Kids it’s content that’s is designed to provide kids a stimulating experience and not just sell them toys. Packed with games and puzzles starring some of their characters, pbskids.org provides primary aged kids a safe space to interact with their favourite characters, like Curious George, Martha (the talking dog!) and more. Another good site for parents and guardians to have ready when kids are clamoring for computer time.
By now, just about every student in Ontario has had time to create their own comics on the Bitstripsforschools.com. The comic building fun can continue throughout the summer with their non-school site, Bitstrips. This is an ideal site for older kids to create and share their own comics. Unlike the school version of Bitstrips.com, this version of the site is public, so students will be sharing comics with the whole Bitstrips community without some of the safeguards teachers are used to. However, any junior grade student who knows their basic web safety rules should have a blast creating and sharing comics all summer.
These five websites should keep your students reading all summer long, and hopefully it will encourage them to even pick up a book and read! I know, we can dream. If you have any suggestions for websites that will get kids reading, I’d love to hear them. Drop them in the comments below and help spread the summer reading fun.
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