This post is sponsored by HarperCollins.
On our early summer trips when the kids were first experiencing the summer gap between grades, I had the loftiest goals of filling that gap with daily lessons on vacation. I crammed second grade readiness practice books and math manipulatives in a dedicated “summer school” bag and toted it across the country with dreams of daily school lessons at the picnic table in the front yard of my dad’s cabin. It took me three years of packing that bag to finally admit that my goals were a little too big for the reality of what our summer looks like, and my kids were never going to want to start their day with math review when the lake was calling. I asked my sister last year what advice she’d offer moms for a list of summer hacks I was writing, and she laughed and said, “Forgive yourself before the summer even begins for all the educational supplements you’re never going to get to.”
As a teacher I know there’s really one important tool–easy to pack–that kids need to fill the summer gap–books. Reading is the all powerful cure to making sure kids don’t fall back during school breaks.
The rest of those summer review lessons can be folded into travel–sorting strawberries in number groups after we pick them, writing postcards to our friends filled with juicy descriptions of our adventures, and adding uneven fractions as we double our recipe for saskatoon pie. So now, we mostly just bring books. And for Nella and Dash, we have a nice stash of HarperCollins I Can Read! books which are not only organized into color-coded levels but include hundreds of titles featuring award-winning authors and illustrators and the most beloved characters in the history of children’s literature–friends they already love like Pete the Cat and Fancy Nancy and Paddington Bear.
The little ones love these books not only because they recognize their favorite characters, but because they make reading so accessible for early readers with small sentences and recognizable sight words which encourages independent reading.
We have them tucked into the back pocket of our car for the road trip, and there’s a stack on the cedar chest in the cabin for everyday reading.
I’ll never forget my own memory of the first book I read alone–it was Little Bear, and I learned to read it on vacation in Tawas, Michigan.
We’re not quite there for a full book independently read, but both Nella and Dash have fun finding words they recognize and reading the books together with family.
I love the way these books and their character friends extend into real life. Dash claims his red shoes are “just like Pete the Cat,” and every teddy bear we pass by is Paddington to Nella.
Our friends at HarperCollins are celebrating our book lovers getting ready for school with a special giveaway for you. One reader with a U.S. mailing address will receive a sampling of five I Can Read! books and a State Bags backpack. Have you seen these backpacks? I’m hooked now–they’re gorgeous. I LOVE this giveaway package!
Just leave a comment on this post telling us what book is your child’s current favorite book to read! I’ll randomly choose one winner by (I’ll insert a date here) and notify them by e-mail.
You can learn more about I Can Read Books! here or follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There’s also a great collection of printable activities and tips for beginning readers if you’re feeling ambitious this summer!