The challenge, which goes through September 5, is geared toward kids ages 4 to 14 but it can work it for kids at any level by reading together, as I'm doing with Max. The goal for the challenge: beat last summer's reading world record of 176,438,473 minutes.
Reading is always key, but as the Scholastic folks note, studies show that when kids don't read over the summer they lose core reading skills. Max's reading progress is hard won, so I'm determined to help him keep up with reading this summer. Hopefully, we will not run out of firefighter themed books.
Sign up couldn't be simpler:
The kids had fun choosing their screen names from the list of categories and words. Parents can link accounts to the kids' schools to compete for school awards. Once you're signed up, you get your first challenge; we started on a Monday, and the kids each had to read 125 minutes by Sunday. That's only about 18 minutes a day. So far, the challenges have increased by five minutes each week.
This year's theme: Reading Under the Stars (powered by Eveready). There's good interaction; as the kids reach reading milestones, they can spin a virtual wheel and earn their choice of badges, like this:
One cool way for the kids keep track of minutes read over the summer: the Scholastic Reading Timer, which has a stopwatch. For Max, this has the added bonus of learning about keeping time.
Over on the Facebook calendar for parents, there are tips, printables and Friday Freebies. There are plenty of book recommendations on the Parents section of the Summer Reading Challenge, with more suggestions for encouraging reading. If you're so inclined, you and the kids can check #MondayMinutes on Twitter to see what the reading count is up to. You can also follow the Summer Reading Challenge Pinterest board.
Both kids have enjoyed logging in their minutes—it's motivating—and exploring the galaxy. I'm learning lots, too. Fun space fact: If you left Earth today, it would take you nine months on a space shuttle to reach Mars. If you wanted to hit Neptune, it would take you 12 or more years. So if your family ever makes you lose it and you decide to run away from home, you're best off avoiding outer space.
As kids rack up reading minutes, they click on constellations to learn how to spot them in the sky and get interesting facts, relayed on video by astronaut Leland Melvin. On the day we found out that Pisces looks like two giant fish with their tails tied together by a giant ribbon, and that you should look for a ring of seven stars to discover the first fish, we headed out to the back deck that night and found them. (There's a handy Star Constellation PDF to download). Max insisted that he saw a fire truck in the stars, and who was I to argue?
This post is sponsored by Scholastic, but opinions are my own.
Illustration of girl reading under the stars: Scholastic Inc.