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Summer vacation with books


Editor's Note: Today Jerdine Nolen discusses how to prepare reading activities for the coming summer.

Summer is almost here! Ask any kid and he will tell you summer was invented just for him. I felt that way too. Summer is what gets us through the other parts of the year. We wade through rain, we push against wind and cold and we trudge through snow, sleet and mud to get there. We work hard and we wait. And just when the time is right, summer is ours! There's time for vacations, when families travel into the wide-open spaces to dream destinations, packed to the hilt. Don't forget your books. Small and portable, they can go with you. What are we waiting for? Summer, here we come!

Making reading plans

Ask your children how they plan to continue their reading through the summer.

Share your personal reading goals with them and tell them what books you plan to read.

Ask your child's teacher to supply a summer reading list.

Find out if your library or bookstore has a reading incentive program. Your children may want to join it. Visit your local branch (or your vacation town's branch) regularly.

Ask your librarian to help you compile a list of family read-aloud stories.

Setting a mood for reading

Set up family reading rituals. While preparing for bed, play soft, relaxing music before reading. Sit outside (on the porch or lawn, under a tree or on a blanket) in well-lighted areas in the evening.

Use family reading times to read favorite passages aloud.

Use meal times to take turns reading aloud.

Summer reading activities

Visit the library for story time, puppet shows or demonstrations.

Form a book club.

Make a "Summer of 2001" bookmark.

Keep a log of books read by your family.

Dramatize what you read.

Read poetry loudly and with abandon.

A resident of Ellicott City, Jerdine Nolen is the award-winning author of the children's books "Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm," "Raising Dragons" and "Big Jabe." She was a teacher and administrator in elementary education and has tested her suggestions on her son and daughter.

New York Times Children's Chapter Book Best Sellers

Editor's Note: The children's best-seller list has three categories -- picture books, chapter books and paperbacks -- which are published in rotation, one category per week.

1. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" by J.K. Rowling (weeks on list: 85)

2. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" by J.K. Rowling (42)

3. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling (124)

4. "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by J.K. Rowling (99)

5. "A Mother's Gift" by Britney and Lynne Spears (2)

6. "Castaways of the Flying Dutchman" by Brian Jacques (5)

7. "The Bad Beginning" by Lemony Snicket (26)

8. "The Ersatz Elevator" by Lemony Snicket (9)

9. "The Amber Spyglass" by Philip Pullman (28)

10. "Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo (13)

Contact us

The Sun invites readers to send in tips about encouraging children to read, and we will print them on this page or on, our place on the Internet. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. Send suggestions by fax to 410-783-2519; by e-mail to; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

World to plug in for Read-In Day

This Thursday, students, parents, authors and teachers all over the world will log onto the Internet and share their insights about reading in the seventh annual tradition known as Read-In Day. It's billed as a grassroots effort to encourage literacy by providing "yearlong literacy-based classroom resources, experts in the field of education and literacy to provide guidance and offer classroom management advice and more opportunities for ongoing, monthly intimate author / student meetings online."

As a kick-off, students (ages 5-18, grades K-12) and teachers will chat with one or several among 22 children's book authors, including Newbery Medal winner Virginia Hamilton, ever popular Judy Blume and "Goosebumps" creator R.L. Stine. Classes around the country will coordinate times to go online and discuss books they are reading.

The Read-In Learning Center is the interactive hub of the Web site, where participants can download chat software and fully engage in the 14 "rooms" worth of activities. Several events on the site require pre-registration, so make sure you're included! Go to for more information.

-- Athima Chansanchai

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