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Omaha experts share tips on keeping kids’ reading skills up to par over the summer

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Eva, Jonathan and their 2-year-old son Ezra read together every day before bedtime.

“I hope it will grow his love for it so that in the future he will want to read on his own,” said Eva Avila.

Librarian Natalie Struecker organizes events like themed story time and escape rooms while school is out.

“We’re just trying to encourage reading throughout the summer,” said Struecker, director of the Omaha Public Library, Downtown Branch. “Our feeling is that the reading part is the important part.”

UNO Assistant Professor of Literacy Dr. Jennifer Lemke explained why it’s important to keep up with your reading.

“It’s not necessarily that they have that ability. It’s that they didn’t use those muscles and engage in that kind of thinking during those summer months,” she said.

Experts say the proficiency gap widens between students who read during the summer and students who don’t.

Ezra’s father wants him to learn different subjects through reading.

The latest book I’m reading is learning how to be a big brother.

“That will help me explain to him that mommy has a baby in her belly,” Eva said.

Dr. Lemke said, “We want to build both the will and the skills of our students early.”

Here are her summer tips:

  • Start a family book club
  • Always have reading material on hand for your free time
  • Emphasize words and meaning rather than pictures

For Erza and his parents, the next lesson will prepare him to be not only a good reader, but also a good big brother.