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How-To Tuesday: 10 Tips for a Smarter, Healthier Summer

by Greg Tucker

The school year is over, but that's not an excuse to let your child's brain and body take the summer off. Inspired by the First Lady's Let's Move initiative, the Corporation for National and Community Service's Let's Read. Let's Move. calls on all Americans to combat summer reading loss and childhood obesity through service this summer.

We've assembled a list of 10 things Americans can do to help their children combat summer reading loss and childhood obesity. Tell us how you're joining the effort on Facebook and watch for tweets with the #LRLM hashtag on Twitter.

Dust Off That Library Card

By reading four or more books during the summer, kids can prevent the summer slide, where they lose reading skills during the break from classes. Encourage your children to keep reading during the summer, and they will be ahead of the game when classes resume.

Kids' Choice

Let your kids pick some of the books they want to read this summer. Studies have found that children are 91% more likely to finish a book when they choose it themselves.

Do the Write Thing

Writing goes hand-in-hand with reading, so encourage your children to write journals and postcards to share what happened during the summer with friends and relatives. Let them take their camera on vacation and other outings and turn everything into a book at the end of summer.

A Day at the Museum

If you need an idea for an outing to write about, museums are a great way to stimulate curious minds and spur youngsters to continue learning during the summer. Consider reading projects before and after the visit. Don't know where to begin? The Let's Move Museums and Gardens list and National Geographic's list of 20 free museums in the U.S. are great places to start.

Let the Games Begin

Soon it will be nearly impossible to escape the 2012 Summer Olympics, so why not let the best athletes in the world inspire you to get off the couch and get moving? Create your own Olympic-style competition with your family, friends, or both.

Seen the Movie? Read the book.

Many of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters were based on popular books. Challenge your children to read the book a movie is based upon, compare the differences between the two, and discuss which version was better.

Get Moving, Get an Award

Take the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award challenge to get more exercise and eat healthier this summer. There are exercise plans for kids, teens, and adults, and you can track your progress online. Sign up and make the commitment and become the next award winner.

Grab a Free e-Book

If your children have access to an e-reader or computer, consider grabbing some of the free e-books available for these devices. One source is Project Gutenberg, which has a large collection of public domain children's books and literature for downloading.

Try Reading Together

Younger children love it when you spend time together reading. Strive to carve out at least 30 minutes each day to turn off the TVs and computers, find a good book, and read aloud to each other.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

There's still time to get out to a garden and plant some healthy vegetables for summer. Use the project to encourage your children to learn about the plant varieties that grow best in your area and gain understanding about how the food they eat is grown.

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