Thursday, June 7, 2012

Reading Rockets Launches New Summer Reading Website

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, 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. This summer, Reading Rockets introduces 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.

Grown-ups who visit the Start with a Book website will find:
  • 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.
  • Tips for parents in English, Spanish, and other languages to support English language learners. For those who sign up, reading tips in English or Spanish get delivered as text messages, 3-4 times each week.
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 grade 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 get started with Start with a Book:

  • “What does my child love to see, explore, and learn about?” With this question in mind, visit  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.
  • Make plans to extend the learning and give your child a real world connection to the things you read together. Whether it is an unhurried trip to grocery store to explore unusual fruits and vegetables, an evening stroll to watch the night sky or a visit to a museum or zoo, activities that get you out and about with your child help build important literacy skills.
  • Choose more themes and more books for an entire summer’s worth of discovery!
    The Start with a Book project is funded by the Park Foundation.