Verizon's Teams Up with Children's Literacy Advocate To Help Parents Make Summer Reading Fun

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DALLAS - As the memory of the school year fades and the novelty of the swimming pool wears off, many parents are frantically looking for activities to keep their children busy. National children's literacy advocate Mary Brigid Barrett shares her ideas on Verizon, where parents can access numerous online suggestions for encouraging a child to read.

''If kids are to become lifelong readers, they need to think of reading as a pleasurable activity and not as a chore. Summer vacation gives parents a unique opportunity to cultivate positive reading attitudes by building reading and writing experiences into fun family activities,'' says Barrett, president and executive director of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. ''A key to great parenting is 'show - don't tell,' so one of the best ways to get your kids reading this summer is to let them see you reading for fun, pleasure and relaxation.''

Barrett suggests the following reading activities that children and parents can do together:

  • Take your kids to a baseball or softball game. Have them pretend that they are newspaper reporters and give them ''press credentials'' and writing assignments.
  • Give each of your kids 16 pieces of typing paper folded in half and stapled. They can use this paper to write and illustrate a book, keep a summer diary or journal or make a summer calendar and address book.
  • Plan a ''Teddy Bear Picnic'' for the littlest of kids. Go to the library and check out bear stories, such as Winnie the Pooh, Paddington Bear and ''Goldilocks and the Three Bears.'' Your local children's librarian can help you find more bear stories. Have your kids bring a favorite stuffed animal to the picnic. Spread a big blanket out on the grass under a tree, and give the kids lemonade and graham crackers while you read aloud to them.
  • Play ''Survival Island.'' Designate an area of the playground, yard or campground as the ''island.'' Because there will be no electricity or technology on the island, they must bring things to eat and things to keep them entertained and busy, one of which must be a book.

Studies show that many children are considered reluctant readers, meaning that they have the ability to read, but often do not read outside of class assignments. While the majority of reluctant readers are boys, parents can try the following suggestions to encourage their sons and daughters to read more often:

  • Give them comic books and illustrated novels. Start with the comic pages in your local newspaper. Move on to The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes collections. Try Tom Strong by Alan Moore of DC Comics.
  • Great books for older boys include: an intense poetry collection by rap star Tupak Shakur, The Rose Grew from the Concrete; and super skateboarder Tony Hawk's autobiography, HAWK. Other great options for boys include fiction books by Jon Scieszka, Christopher Paul Curtis and Walter Dean Myers.
  • Keep paperback books and magazines in your car, in your beach bag or with your camping equipment. Older kids love magazines, and you can check out many of the magazines kids love from your local library.

For more information about these and other suggestions, visit at and click on the Summer Reading Tips link.

About Mary Brigid Barrett
Mary Brigid Barrett is the president and executive director of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. She is an award-winning children's book author and illustrator and teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her recent books include: Day Care Days, The Man of the House at Huffington Row, and four toddler books, Beach Baby, Leaf Baby, Snow Baby and Mud Baby.

About Verizon Information Services
Verizon Information Services is a world's leading print and online directory publisher and a content provider for communications products and services. The largest directory publisher in the world, Verizon has annual revenues of more than $4.1 billion and publishes nearly 1,600 Verizon directory titles with a total circulation of approximately 144 million copies worldwide. Verizon Information Services also produces and markets, the Internet's preeminent online directory and shopping resource. receives as many as 9 million visits and completes as many as 20 million searches per month.

Based in the Dallas area, Verizon Information Services is a unit of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), one of the world's leading providers of communications services.

Through its signature Verizon Reads program and the Verizon Literacy Network, Verizon is committed to leading the fight to increase U.S. literacy levels by creating community and corporate awareness, raising funds, encouraging collaboration among literacy providers and engaging employees in supporting literacy programs. Verizon Information Services sponsors community outreach programs across the nation designed to increase the literacy rate of children and to help people of all ages become computer literate.

For more information on Verizon Information Services, visit For more information on Verizon's literacy programs, visit and click on the Verizon Reads icon.

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