Angela's Answers: Booked For The Summer



photograph by William Taufic

Sure, summertime is for fun, sun and play but it’s important to make sure your children’s basic reading and writing skills don’t also take a vacation. Harris Cooper, chairman of the department of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, found that the average student loses a minimum of a month’s worth of overall learning during the summer. Here, fun ways—for you and them—to keep the creativity flowing.

» Create a Reading Train: Have your child design an engine and caboose from construction paper and hang them on the wall. For every book your kids read, ask them to draw or write something that inspired them from the story. Hang these creations in between the engine and caboose, so that they become the train cars. Or create an original story train, adding new cars/chapters every day.

» Dine & Write: Cover your table with butcher paper to encourage experimentation in poetry and story writing as a family during meals. You can write individually and then share your work or build on a story together and have each person take a turn writing a sentence.

» Become a Publisher: Have your kids keep a summer journal of stories, poetry and songs. You’ll be amazed at the thoughts, creativity and emotions that pour out. “Publish” the work in a book (through Snapfish or Shutterfly) at the end of the summer. Celebrate with a barbeque and a reading of favorite selections. The books will be sweet mementos of the summer.

» Read to Play: Instead of just reading books, have your kids turn them into plays and act them out. Or encourage them to write a new ending or write a theme song for the story and make a music video.


Mother of two, Angela Santomero is the creator, writer and producer of children’s uber-hits Blue’s Clues and Super Why! Every month Angela offers her advice and observations on being a mom and an executive in children’s television while balancing and learning from both worlds.

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