'What Can Families Do to Keep Their Children Reading Over the Summer" is a small yellow sheet of paper available for free at the Charleston County Library.

Every suggestion listed was tried and true at our house, summer after summer.

--Books were combined with activities, so if we were planting a garden, we read about gardens.

--We were frequent library visitors, both to borrow books and to participate in programs.

--Our children saw my husband and me reading books and newspapers, so they could tell reading was important and enjoyable for the adults in their lives.

--Days were loosely structured so that there was time to read.

--Bedtimes were stretched later to accommodate "just one more chapter!"

--Books and magazines were out and about in the car, the bathroom, the porch, kitchen and bedrooms.

--We got great ideas for crafts and recipes from books.

--Reading aloud was a bedtime tradition.

I don't remember that we read the same book individually and then talked about it, but I think that's a wonderful idea. Parents have told me that they turn off the TV sound and turn on the captioning so that their children "read" the programs. How cool is that!?

Listening together to books on tape (especially on long trips) sounds even more effective than having a U.N. peacekeeper in the car. I recently listened to "The Sea of Trolls" by Nancy Farmer. Fantastic!

Another idea is to create a reading tent. Children may stay inside as long as they like, as long as they are reading and quiet.

And Eureka! This year, at long last, the trend is turning toward suggested titles rather than dictated titles. This creates the freedom children need to read titles they choose, books they want to read and are interested in reading. Also, more summer reading programs are counting minutes of reading instead of pages read. All of this is progress.

Looking for more ideas? The Charleston County School District website, www.ccsdschools.com, posts a list of websites under "Summer Reading." Many of those same websites are listed in my book, "Ten Tips for Raising Readers."

Contact Fran Hawk at franbooks@yahoo.com.