7 time-tested summer reading adventures for your family

This is the last reading post of my Friday reading series for June. I hope you have enjoyed them all, and are already planning some summer reading adventures for your family . . .

Teachers all over America lament the fact that kids lose lots of learning over the summer months. Why not give your kids a jump-start on school this fall by creating summer reading adventures and warm family moments for all of you to enjoy?

The trick with summertime reading, is to make sure it is FUN!  

1. If you don’t already have one, get a book shelf, book basket or create a book corner somewhere in your house. Studies of lifelong readers note that books always had  a special place in their home as they were growing-up. Our kids catch on fast, if you have the good dishes or other prized possessions in a special place, and multiple TVs, laptops, and iPads  around – kids start thinking they are important to you. Why not help them create the same perception about books!

While my two sons were growing up, we had bookshelves and book baskets in our house.  When they were in high school I kept a bookshelf at the end of the hall by their bedrooms – it was in constant sight and provided easy access without my direct involvement. I kept it stocked with gently used paperbacks of the books from their annual school reading lists. When summer storms and boredom rolled in, they and their friends often slipped titles from those shelves. I learned to buy multiple copies of the same title, so their friends could grab a book, as well. (Reading is a tad more acceptable when your buddies are doing it, too.) Find a way to keep books front and center in your kids’ lives, and remember to adapt access to their age and stage.

2. Let your kids see you reading. Do you know the reading level of the Dad sets the overall interest level kids have in books? Read the newspaper or online sources, and then – this is key – talk about what you’ve read at dinner time or when you are in the car with your kids.

Start at least one conversation a day with “You know what I read today?”, “Guess what Aunt Debbie wrote on Facebook today.”, or “Guess what I learned on the Internet today.” Kids love to imitate their parents; before you know it yours will be sharing stories of their own. Subtle changes, may lead to big rewards.

3. Read in new and different places. Summer offers all sorts of exciting reading venues and opportunities – in a tent, in the yard, on the grass, or in a tree, in the pool or in a tube, by the river, in a boat, on a mountain, or on a goat, at sunrise or sunset, in Grandma’s lap or on a jet, in the rain or under the stars, and of course, as always, in a car. Ask your kids to come-up with new and unusual places to read a book, and then do it together. (Sorry about the rhyme, I couldn’t resist.)

4. Take books on vacation. Make a big deal about packing the books, by giving each child a special book bag or backpack. Let them select the books they want to bring, and then make sure to pack a few surprises in case they run through theirs quickly. (If possible, match them to what you will be doing or bring along imagination builders like mysteries or fantasies. )

Bring magazines or comic books along,  matching titles to your kids interests. Magazines or comic books are a great way to segue way non or reluctant-readers into books. If they’ll be watching movies on the road, try to get books of the same title or related to the film’s theme.

Let your kids navigate and/or read brochures or online articles about where you will be going, and incorporate at least one of their choices. One of the best road trips I ever took, was with my then 8 and 9 year-old sons – their Dad had just started a new job and could not make it to his family’s reunion. My older son road shotgun and navigated the entire trip using a map and Trip Tik. (Pre-GPS and MapQuest, Trip-Tiks were the way to go!) His younger brother kept use entertained by reading jokes all the way from Fort Myers, Florida to Norfolk, Virginia.

5. Read-aloud lots to your kids this summer! The biggest reading mistake parents make is to stop reading to their kids when their kids start reading! Children need reading practice, so letting them read to you is essential, but when you stop reading to them, you reduce their opportunity for vocabulary growth and content understanding. You see, by keeping the words and stories you read to them on a higher level than what they can read, you are exposing them to more and larger words and to more complex plots and themes.

While they are reading beginner-readers books to you, you can be reading more advanced picture books and simple chapter books to them. When they conquer those, you can read longer, more complex chapter books to them. My husband read “The Chronicles of Narnia” to our boys when they were 7 and 8, and they loved it. Not long after, he shared “The Hobbit” and the “Lord of the Rings Tribolog.”with them.

 Don’t underestimate the listening level of your children. If they do seem bored or distracted, move on to something else – remember this is all about having fun.

6. The long hot days of summer are the perfect for introducing your kids to series books, either by reading them aloud, or by allowing them to enjoy on their own. It’s also a great time to share your childhood favorites with them. What were you reading when you were their ages?

If they don’t find your childhood choices as interesting as you did, you can spend time telling them stories about your summer vacations – you know, from way back when. Most of us still remember a tale or two our parents or older relatives shared with us.  Take time to make an impression on them, tell your tale with lots of details and memory-making gusto. Someday, they may repeat it to their kids, and for now, it helps their attention spans, and ability to follow plot lines and the twists and turns they present.

7. Keep it light! The goal is to have fun with it. These ideas are designed to work when the mood and intensity are low-key. If one idea or another doesn’t succeed, try, try again, but do so in an easy off-hand way. Don’t feel both parents have to be involved, but if they both jump on the summer reading band wagon, all the better.

We as parents have a tendency to overdo things. We are all guilty, at one time or another, of over booking ourselves and our kids. Don’t let this summer be yet another over-scheduled season. Your kids want to spend time with you more than just about anything else you have planned, I guarantee it. Your attention is much more important than what you are doing.  (Of course, if they are heading into middle or high school, you have to fine-tune your parenting radar to know exactly when and where they want you to invade their space!)

Years ago, when my sister and her family were returning home after their first summer vacation in Florida, my sister asked her two children what they enjoyed most. They responded that the time we all spent together watching  dolphins in the Gulf and feeling sand dollars in the water with our toes were tops with them – which meant that the five very expensive days at a major theme park, came in at least third. That’s not to say that activity wasn’t fun, too, it was, but it didn’t  match the fun of an un-orchestrated laid back moment.

Take some time this summer to make reading a rewarding, memory-making experience for your kids. I will never forget the joy and sense of adventure and possibility I felt as I read one of my many Nancy Drew mysteries while lying in my Dad’s old army hammock hung between two sky-high, straight-trunked hickory nut trees in our backyard.

Happy, sad, glad, mad

Did you know that identifying the emotions you are feeling is a great way to decrease or expand their impact, and that by simply identifying and admitting you are feeling happy, sad, glad or mad you can improve your life?

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Studies show that when we identify and accept our negative emotions or situations – sad/mad – their impact is lessened, especially in times of stress. Positive psychology research has revealed that savoring the good things that happen to us (gratitudes) or identifying when we are feeling good – happy/glad – increases the likelihood we will strive to increase positive situations and emotions.

You can reap the rewards noted in these studies by taking your emotional temperature throughout the day. (Sounds silly, but it works!) To get started, you can pick specific times – 10, 2 and 6 or specific activities – breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are even free apps you can download and use!

But most importantly, make sure to note what you are feeling when you notice your emotional temperature changing. This is the best time to key in and be open and honest with yourself about what you are experiencing. (Try it, it can make a huge difference in your life.)

Admitting to yourself that you are feeling sad or mad is often enough to keep those feelings from escalating and may prevent you from saying or doing things you may later regret. (P.S. Your body and brain already know what you are feeling and have responded to it, you might be fooling yourself, but you’re not fooling them!)

Noting when you are feeling happy or glad, is a great way to savor the moment and is an excellent way to begin creating the life you really want by helping you recognize and include the people, places, things and activities that truly make you feel happy and fulfilled.

Once you get in the habit of noticing when you are happy, sad, glad, or mad, you can expand your awareness by adding emotions such as confident, enthusiastic, optimistic, appreciative and/or jealous, resentful, ashamed and guilty. The better you get at identifying how you are feeling the easier it will be to expand or respond to each emotion.

So how are you feeling right now –  happy, sad, glad, or mad?

I’m feeling happy and snappy, which for me means happy with a twist of enthusiasm and a sprinkle or two of optimism. Here’s hoping you have an equally insightful day!

Find out more about Patrice, and how she can help you create the life you really want.

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Ready to read

Each week in June, I am writing a post about reading aloud to the kids in your life. This week’s post is a combo of Reach Out And Read reading tips (in bold) and my personal time-tested comments

  • Make reading part of every day. Read at bedtime or on the bus.
    • Keep books in your diaper bag, purse or car – they are great stress relievers for parents and kids when the wait is longer than expected. Make sure these books are extra special!
  • Have fun. Children who love books learn to read. Books can be part of special time with your child.
    • Remember it is as much about the experience as it is the words – keep it light not a lesson.
  • A few minutes is okay. Young children can only sit for a few minutes for a story, but as they grow, they will sit longer.
    • Work up to 15-20 minutes a day – you’ll be surprised how fast kids adapt to the reading habit. If you can spend 30 minutes all the better, but it’s more important to be spending the time than watching the clock.
  • Talk about the pictures. You do not have to read the book to tell a story.
    • Great time to talk about colors, shapes, big and little, tall and short, etc.
  • Let your child turn the pages. Babies need board books and help to turn pages, but your 3-year-old can do it alone.
    • You are building confidence, along with an interest in stories and reading.
  • Show your child the cover page. Explain what the story is about.
    • Telling them who wrote the book is a great way to inspire the writing habit, let them know they can write books, too!
  • Show your child the words. Run your finger along the words as you read them.
    • New research shows this is key to helping children connect the concept of reading to letters and words on the page.
  • Choose books that your child can relate to. Select books that relate to what is happening in your child’s world – starting preschool, going to the dentist, getting a new pet, or moving to a new home.
    • Let your child pick out books at the library or the bookstore. Make selecting a book on your child’s birthday a BIG deal. Spark their interest ahead of time, “What type of book do you think you would like to buy for your birthday this year?” Visit the bookstore and a stop for a treat with just the birthday boy or girl.  Put a colorful book-plate or help them write in their name, age, etc. in their birthday book. Come-up with a special entry such as: “Child’s name picked-out this book all by him/herself for his/her  _____ birthday on _________. We read it for the first time on ___________. We give it an ____ rating!”
  • Make the story come alive. Create voices for the story characters and use your body to tell the story.
    • Use this time with your child to fully connect with your child and to help them develop and use their imagination. Create competition for the video games and TV shows waiting to capture their attention.
  • Ask questions about the story. What do think will happen next? What is this?
    • Be as interactive as possible, but if your child keeps asking you to keep reading, then skip the funny stuff – they are already hooked!

For age specific Reach Out and Read reading tips, click here. For their age specific book suggestions, click here.

Jump in!

“Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.” 

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Go ahead, you can do it, jump in!

Wishful Thinking Works personalized life coaching can help you jump into the life you really want.

For more information contact Patrice Koerper.

Happy Birthday, Anne

In honor of an amazing young girl, and the fact that her words have brought insight and understanding to millions of people worldwide, I post about Anne Frank on or near her birthday each year.  Anne is also the inspiration for my Friday posts about reading in June this year. You see, her words matter because they were shared and read. I truly believe reading change lives. Here is my annual post in honor of Anne.

Anne Frank‘s birthday is tomorrow, June 12. Like many teenage girls, Anne was wonderfully caring and compassionate, and was trying to deal with the confusing and conflicting feelings of youth. The setting in which she recorded her thoughts makes them all the more poignant and profound.

Anne was born in 1929 in Frankfort, Germany. Her family emigrated to the Amsterdam in 1933, where they later became an important part of world history. On her 13th birthday, Anne received a diary from her father, and what she choose to write changed the world.

Had she lived, Anne would be 83 this year. If circumstances had been dramatically different, Anne might still be with us, enjoying life, visiting family and friends, traveling, and maybe writing and lecturing. In today’s world, she would not seem that old. Her very short life – she died at 15 in the Auschwitz concentration camp as the result of simply being Jewish  – was not lived that long ago. The style of her red and white plaid diary is not really out-of-date, and thankfully, because of the words she placed on the pages of that journal, Anne and her story are still with us.

Anne’s youthful, simple, heartfelt thoughts have touched millions of people. Words can do that – the spoken ones, for better or for worst, the written ones for generations to see. They help writers understand their lives, explore their thoughts, the situations surrounding them, and the world.

I think the value of words, including those of children, can never be underestimated.

Perhaps this year, you can buy a journal for your daughter, son, niece, nephew, granddaughter, grandson, or the kid next door. Let them know you value who they are and what they have to say. And, maybe you can tell them about Anne, and the gift her father gave her.

The process of writing may change their lives and the generations that follow them.

If you would like to read more about Anne, I’ve listed some links I found interesting, and that you might enjoy:

The only film of Anne.

Miep Gies, Mr. Frank’s office assistant and one of the brave people, who helped hide Anne’s family, died in January 2010; she was 100.  I really did not know much about Ms. Gies, this link shares a bit about her; I loved it.

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl was first published in Amsterdam in 1947, and in America in 1952. By the early 1960’s the book was part of school curriculums throughout the U.S.

Anne Frank Foundation

Happy Birthday, Anne, and thank you. Because of your words our world is richer, and I hope wiser.

And, Happy Father’s Day to your father Otto, who transcribed and shared your dairy, and then spent the rest of his life working for human rights, unity and peace and answering the letters of people, who read your diary. (Anne’s father, Otto Frank, was the only member of his family, who survived the concentration camps. He passed away in August 19, 1980.)

“I am now almost ninety and my strength is slowly failing. Still, the task I received from Anne continues to restore my energy: to struggle for reconciliation and human rights throughout the world.”   Otto Frank


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Reach Out and Read


I’ve dedicated each Friday in June to sharing summer reading adventures for you and the children you care about. I know it is a little different topic for Wishful Thinking Works, but reading to kids can change their lives and can be a rewarding part of creating the life you want! Spending time reading to a child cuddled in your lap is a great bonding experience, sure-fire happiness inducer, and can be a great stress reducer, too.

Today’s reading updates are from the Reach Out and Read web site. Reach Out and Read is a fantastic not-for-profit organization involving pediatricians, who prescribe reading aloud to parents during their children’s 6-month to 5-year well-visits. The program and its partners provide free books for children to help them develop healthy reading habits. I was lucky enough to partner with Reach Out and Read as one of my public relations projects. I have seen firsthand the joy and excitement reading brings to even the youngest children, and teachers across the country attest to its positive impact on school readiness.
Here is why reading to young children is so important:
  • Children who live in print-rich environments and who are read to during the first years of life are much more likely to learn to read on schedule.
  • Reading aloud to young children is not only one of the best activities to stimulate language and cognitive skills; it also builds motivation, curiosity, and memory.
  • Early language skills, the foundation for reading ability and school readiness, are based primarily on language exposure – resulting from parents and other adults talking to young children.
  • Research shows that the more words parents use when speaking to an 8-month-old infant, the greater the size of their child’s vocabulary at age 3. The landmark Hart-Risley study on language development documented that children from low-income families hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers before the age of 4.
  • Books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently in spoken language. Children’s books actually contain 50% more rare words than primetime television or even college students conversations.
  • The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life.”

As you head out on your summer vacation or look forward to spending long and lazy days around the house, make books and reading part of the fun! Summer is a great time to share books about farms and gardens and how things grow, about turtle and frogs and other slimy things to know!  Quacking ducks and mooing cows are a huge hit with the under 5 crowd and don’t forget, board books are made for viewing and chewing!

If you want to make it to 100, don’t worry, be happy!

There’s a new discovery about living a long life and being happy.

Researchers in the Longevity Genes Project of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, have found that being outgoing, optimistic, easygoing, and enjoying laughter as well as staying engaged in activities may be part of the longevity genes mix.

In a recent study, centenarians were given a brief measure (the Personality Outlook Profile Scale, or POPS). They scored higher than most younger folks on traits reflecting optimism.

“Our findings suggest that centenarians share particular personality traits and that genetically-based aspects of personality may play an important role in achieving both good health and exceptional longevity.”  — Nir Barzilai, M.D

Now, we can’t say for sure that a long life is a result of being positive, but the study shows a preponderance of positive outlook traits in the 97-year-old and up crowd they studied.

There may be a genetic predisposition that kept them upbeat and social their entire lives, or as some studies show they might have gotten happier as they grew older!  You see, some research reveals that from 70 to 100 years of age, our personalities can change.

Bottom line, being happy certainly can’t hurt you, and it may tip the scales in your favor, if a long and happy life is what you are looking for.

So, as the song says, and a lot of 100 year-olds know, “Don’t worry, be happy!”

Click here, for a related CBS video about The Longevity Genes Project’s “Super Agers” .

Do you feel happy enough to live to be 100? I’ve helped others discover and deepen their happiness through my 8 week life coaching process Wishful Thinking Works Life Coaching

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Summer Reading

Did you know . . . “Fewer than half (48%) of young children in the U.S. are read to daily, meaning that more than 13 million children under 5 go to bed every night without a bedtime story.”

Did you know that reading aloud to a child can change his or her life?

Each Friday in June, I will be posting read-aloud tips, facts and fun for you and your kids, grandkids, friends and neighbors’ kids or nieces and nephews. Summer is the perfect time to begin the read-aloud habit, and it’s a great way to keep school-age kids interested and involved over the summer break.

Reading aloud is a personal passion of mine and was a professional project for me for about 10 years. We read to our sons, each and every night and presenting read-aloud workshops and promotions was one of my favorite PR projects – EVER!

It’s free, it’s fun and it can change lives.  Read all about it, right here at Wishful Thinking Works, each Friday in June. Share the posts with your family and friends. My wish for the summer is to help you make reading aloud part of the life you, and the kids you care about, really want.

Can you guess which states have the highest % of children read to daily? (They are all part of one region.)

What’s your child’s favorite book? (Include your child’s age, so others can use your recommendation.)

Did you have a favorite kids book, if so, what is it?

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