How to encourage your kids to read and learn this summer


— Summer, is almost here and that means a break from school for so many students. This is the perfect time to encourage them to read a good book— just for the fun of it.

“That doesn’t mean your children can’t learn a thing or two from an engaging novel, such as: Hidden Figures, The Drum of Destiny, or Like a River,” said David Bruce Smith, co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize.

The titles Smith suggests are past winners of the Grateful American Book Prize, and they are appropriate for young readers. They are also griping page-turners that your kids won’t be able to put down. Most importantly, adolescents will learn life lessons without knowing it. These books are about America’s history; the space program; the struggle for equality; how the U.S. won its independence; and the grit of the younger generation during the Civil War.

Neme Alperstein is a teacher of gifted and talented students, and a member of the Panel of Judges for the Book Prize.

“We older folks might prefer the feel of a hardcover or paperback for a good read, but our kids rather download their books onto their electronic devices to enjoy these historically accurate novels. After all, we are well into the digital age. Either way you’ll be putting your child on the path to becoming a productive student, and ultimately a responsible citizen.”

According to Alperstein, many libraries allow students to check books out for the summer—in print and digital versions.

“eBooks are available in libraries across the country. The range of formats available is intended to expand interest. For those on the go, recordings are available through the use of various apps, and local librarians will know which those are, and [will] even help with installing them on mobile devices. You can also search online for free reading apps. And, you needn’t worry about overdue books because digital library books just disappear from your device on the due date— and can be easily renewed,” she said.

You can download books for free or purchase directly from services such as Amazon. Ask your local librarian to suggest digital resources. Kanopy, for example, has a huge selection of eBooks that can be accessed at no charge by using your library card.

“I’m partial to American history related literature, so looking up titles is easy enough using the search term “American history novel” or “American history literature.” The books may not appear free on the list one finds; a local librarian can then assist in finding the eBook you’re looking for in a library elsewhere in the country,” said Alperstein.

Smith and the late Dr. Bruce Cole, a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, established the Grateful American Book Prize as a way to encourage authors and publishers to produce more books of historical fiction and nonfiction for young learners. Author/publisher submissions of qualifying books for the 2018 Prize will be accepted until July 31, 2018.