Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer Reading Ideas for Boys

The most successful reading program I ever did for my boys was attach reading to weekly field trips. This is how it works. Each of my children chose somewhere they wanted to go on a field trip during the summer. Then they had to read a book on a topic that tied to the field trip. Most of the time, I let them choose the book they wanted, but sometimes I chose the book. I have compiled a list of some of the things we have done and some of the books they read or I chose for them. One of the things I made very clear is that if my boys didn't read the book, they didn't go on the field trip. I had to hire a babysitter ONCE and only once for one of my boys since he didn't read, but his brother did. He was so bummed about missing the field trip, he never missed another book. Don't give in on this or your kids will push it every time. If they know what to expect and what the consequences are of missing their weekly reading, you will not have to fight with them.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Raold Dahl)- I made this book mandatory since I knew the boys would love it. Our field trip was to the Sweets Candy Factory. Check your community to see if you have a candy factory that allows tours. At the end of the tour, I gave them each $2.00 to spend on candy.

The Black Stallion (Walter Farley) - optional. I had a friend that owned a horse.The field trip was to see the horse. My friend let my children ride the horse around the corral and feed it. I told my boys they had to choose a book about a horse. One of my boys chose The Black Stallion but the other chose another book. It's okay. If I chose every book, they would hate it. Let them read any book about a horse.

Rascal (Sterling North) or The Incredible Journey (Sheila Burnford) - Field trip - a hike in the mountains. This was a flexible book choice. They could choose any book about an animal they might see in the mountains, a book about hiking or any book about a journey. These books are suggestions. One of my boys chose Rascal and loved it.

Star Wars the Clone Wars  (Jake T. Forbes) - Field Trip - Clark Planetarium. Most cities have planetariums. The boys decided they had to read a Star Wars book. I let them choose whichever one they could find that was at least 100 pages.

Orphan Train Rider (Andrea Warren) Field Trip - Heber Vally Railroad. In the Utah mountains, we have a train that takes you through the mountains on a day ride. You can just take a subway trip to get ice cream. My sons never read Orphan Train Rider, they chose their own book, but I think it's good to make suggestions to them and throwing in a true story is always a great thing.

Charlotte's Web (E.B. White) - Field Trip - Wheeler Farm. A farm in our area that is set up just for families and field trips. Check your area for any local farmer that might be willing to take you on a tour. I know, as far as the book goes, boys are often hesitant to choose any book with a girl on the cover, but this book is often the exception. My sons liked it, but didn't love it and only one of the boys chose this book. The other found another farm book that I can't think of now.

Raptor (Paul Zindel) - Field Trip - Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point. most cities will have some type of museum with dinosaurs. I let my boys choose any book on dinosaurs.

Holes (Louis Sachar) Field Trip - ATV Riding with Dad in the desert - I know most families won't have access to the desert or ATV riding, but you can also do a field trip about buried treasure if you have a museum with treasures.

The Mystery in New York City (Carol Marsh)- Field Trip - Downtown City Tour of City landmarks. You can read any city book for this and go on a city tour in any city. It might be fun to find a book on your own city
Other field trip ideas:

Art museums
Bike ride with a picnic afterwards
Nature hike
Bird Refuge
Trip to animal shelter (most shelters will take the kids on a tour)
Service project - Find a place that will let your kids read out loud - retirement home or kids shelter. That will be their reading for the week.

When choosing field trips, remember they don't have to be expensive. My trip to see my friends horse was free. One of my sons just likes going to the hobby shop. If I were to take the money I would spend on a field trip and let him spend it at the hobby shop, that would be enough to get him to read. I balance field trips out by doing something free or very inexpensive one week with something that costs money the next. Also, my boys always want to go to the amusement park or water park that is expensive. I save that field trip for the end of the summer as a back to school party and a reward if they read a book every week.

Be flexible in book choices. Keep you children's ages in mind. Don't have a page limit on every book. If the book is short, that is okay, especially if it is educational. I want my boys to read not to get frustrated. If I find that they are making an honest effort to read a book during the week and aren't getting through it because it is too long, I give them a few extra days and choose a shorter book for the next.


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