Lesa Sexton, member of BGCA’s Education team, took a break from getting Summer Brain Gain ready to write today’s post.
Wanna know how to travel the world for free, get intimate access to world leaders, entertainers, athletes, and visionaries, discover magical worlds full of imaginary creatures, and go on daring adventures-all from the comfort of your home? Why, just crack open a book!
Confession: I was a total bookworm growing up. I read anywhere and everywhere-at the dinner table, walking home from school, while taking a bath (so many water-stained books!) . . . In short, I was my parents’ best nightmare.
“Lesa, dinner’s ready!”
“Okay, just three more pages until I finish this chapter!”
“LESAAAAAAAAAAAAAA . . .”
However, I recognize that I was a *unique* child and that not all kids love to read. For many youth, reading can be downright painful. It’s hard; it’s boring; it’s too “sitty” (as the website Imagination Soup termed it). But it doesn’t have to be that way! We can create opportunities for kids to discover the power of a good story and change their attitudes about reading – it just takes a little effort on our part.
And what better time to start than Read Across America? Celebrated every year on March 2, the National Education Association started this literacy initiative to motivate children and teens to read. BGCA is chock full of bibliophiles (if you ever need a book recommendation, WE GOT YOU!) so it’s one of our favorite holidays, and we want to make it one of your Club’s too! Read on for 3 ways you can celebrate this day with your members:
Invite a Guest Reader
It’s always exciting when a special guest comes to visit! Invite caregivers, school teachers, or other community members to sign up to come in and read their favorite childhood book. This can even be a great opportunity to involve your organization’s board or admin staff to get involved. And if they’re so inclined, invite them to facilitate or join in a related activity – for example, making purple paintings after reading “Harold and the Purple Crayon” or Wild Thing masks after reading “Where the Wild Things Are”.
Host a Silent Reading Party
When I was a 2nd grade teacher, by far the most exciting activity for my students was when I allowed them to bring in a pillow, blanket, and their favorite books, turned down the lights, and invited them to spread out on the floor and read. I know what you’re thinking and I too had my doubts and was prepared for the worst, but you know, somehow it just worked! Some quiet instrumental guitar or classical music can really help set the ambiance.
Lead a Book Club (With Snacks, Obviously!)
BGCA’s Middle School Power Hour Targeted Program Guide offers instructions for how to set-up and facilitate a book club, a great way to encourage reading with older youth. Allow youth the opportunity to vote for a book of their choosing, get enough copies for participants (check thrift stores, free libraries, or request donations), give them time each day to read, then lead a discussion and let them share their thoughts. If a book has a film adaptation, host a party to watch it afterwards.
And of course, what would a book club be without snacks?! Bonus points if you can make the snacks align with the book’s theme! Examples include enchiladas and egg salad sandwiches for “The Fault in Our Stars”, Popkenchurch for “On the Come Up”, or baked goods for “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”.
The National Education Association also has ideas for planning a Read Across America event (designed for schools but many would work in the Club), including tips for guest readers and a promotional toolkit. Need book ideas? We’ve shared a ton here on the ClubX Blog, and you can find books that fit Read Across America’s theme of connecting children to diverse books, languages, and cultures on their site.
What ideas do you have for celebrating Read Across America? Email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org! The first 5 individuals to do so will be sent a mystery book…So get your suggestions in fast!
How will you celebrate Read Across America Day? How do you encourage youth to read for fun? Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org to share your best ideas.