It’s summertime! And with summer comes… the summer doldrums; when kids seem to have forgotten how to entertain themselves and resort to the infamous complaint, “I’m bored!” That phrase is like nails on a chalkboard to me and so this summer I am instituting a mandatory Summer Reading Plan for the entire family. It doesn’t hurt that there are plenty of technology options out there that can encourage even the most reluctant reader to engage their mind in a story. Here are some of the tools I’m employing this year as part of the Rush Family Summer Reading Plan.
Technology for Readers:
1. Amazon Kindle:
Last year on my birthday, my husband bought me a Kindle, which was one of the more perfect gifts I’ve received in my lifetime. At the time, the Kindle was the leading e-book reader out there and really the only service that had any sort of variety in books available. So I dug right in and have since made great use of the very portable device. Somewhere in the Summer of 2010, I discovered the Amazon Kindle app on my iPhone, which allowed me to access my Kindle library directly from my phone. This was a huge leap for me, because it allowed me to cram in little bits of reading during normally wasted time when I might not have my Kindle in hand – i.e. in line at the grocery, during my lunch hour, etc. I especially like the fact that my bookmarks, highlights, and last page are stored in my account regardless of the device I use as my reader. So when I pick the Kindle back up, I am reminded that I have read to future page on a different device and am given the option to begin reading at that page. The downside of the Kindle is of course, not all titles are available yet, but Amazon is making great strides in alerting publishers of titles its readers are requesting and I have no doubt that in the near future, I’ll have no limitations to the titles I can read on a Kindle. The Kindle Store boasts 950,000 titles and counting.
2. Audible membership:
I recently fell in love with this service because of the lack of time I have to actually sit and read a book. Because I find myself doing mindless work around the house – laundry, dishes, etc – in the past I have used my iPhone and earphones to listen to podcasts to keep me from dying of boredom. But at the suggestion of a fellow reader, I tried the free 14-day trial from Audible (Their current offer is 3 months for $7.95/mo). In one weekend, I completed 2 books and within a week I upgraded to a 2 year membership which allows me to download up to 24 books within 24 months.
The nice thing about the service is that with your membership you are essentially downloading credits which mean you are able to purchase audiobooks at a fraction of the suggested price. The downside I found with the monthly memberships is that you are limited to only 1-2 books a month, and if you go over you are charged for the full price of the book (less 10%). For those of you who are only reading at bedtime – 20-30 minutes per day – this may be fine. But for those of us who consume books like water, I need a bit more flexibility and so I went for the 2 year deal – which allows me to purchase up to 24 books for an effective price of $9.50 each. My next plan is to download some Young Adult titles to our iPod Touch for Big Son N to listen to during our summer trips.
3. Nook Color (by Barnes and Noble):
My mother-in-law, an avid reader, recently found herself in Barnes and Noble store taking the Nook color for a test drive. That day she announced that she must have a Nook Color. Dear hubby and I weren’t as familiar with the device as we both read on our iPhones – me with Kindle and he with iBooks. But, with her birthday just weeks away, I found myself at Barnes and Noble purchasing a Nook Color. I haven’t spent much time with the device, but my mother-in-law is just smitten with it. She is not the most technologically savvy consumer so this tells me that BN got many of the features just right for the late adopters, taking advantage of the market feedback that came out of the Kindle innovations. The nice thing about the Nook, besides being in color, is that it has a very simple browser that allows web-surfing, something that is not as streamlined on the first generation Kindle. I don’t think the library for Nook is as vast as the Kindle, but it seems to suit Grandma just fine.
4. Leapfrog TagJr.
Baby Girl N received the Tag Jr. from Santa this past Christmas and I am just loving the fact that she is able to sit and “read” books on her own. Granted, the number of available books for the device is VERY limited; I think there are only about 20 books available, anywhere, and only about 6 at local retailers. But as Baby N is only 3 years old, she is taking advantage of reading the same books over and over again. And I’m grateful they all cover topics she should be learning anyway, such as colors, number, shapes. This has been a life saver on our long plane trips this spring and we intend to keep it with us for our summer travel as well.
Summer Reading Programs
5. Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program:
Nothing motivates Middle Son E like Free Stuff. And Barnes and Noble is smart enough to build that into their summer reading program. They are offering kids a free book after they read any 8 books. They even provide a journal for kids to record their read books that can be turned in for a free book at any B&N location. E is a bit like me, he devours books. So, I have no doubt he will complete this challenge many times over before the summer is over. B&N has not forgotten about Parents and Teachers; they provide activity guides that help adults to engage kids in fun activities related to reading.
6. Borders Double Dog Dare Reading Challenge:
Much like the B&N program, Borders is offering a free book for kids who read, in this case, 10 books over the summer. The difference is that they must choose the free book from a list of eligible titles. Not a problem, in our case, as the list is varied. And it is another way for E to benefit from his “Free Stuff” obsession, in a good way! Oh, and this program is only for kids 12 and under.
7. Pizza Hut BOOK it! Program:
Even Pizza Hut is encouraging kids to READ! The Book It Program is designed for schools to manage, but parents can register as a home-school locations to request the kit be sent to their home. Even without the kid, however, the Book It program website has many helpful resources to encourage your kiddos to pick up a book.
8. Local Library Summer Reading Program:
Chances are, your local library has a summer reading program that is designed for kids in the local area, complete with rewards and recommended reading lists. We are lucky enough to live in a city that have 3 different county library systems, and all of them have a comparable reading program for the Portland kiddos.
Multnomah County “Get in Gear” Summer Reading:
Clackamas and Washington Counties “One World, Many Stories” Reading Program:
No excuses! Get out there and READ! Please post a comment if you know of other Reading Tools or programs that I missed.
My next post will include the Rush family Summer Reading Lists with recommendations for all ages… Stay tuned!