Tricia Offutt


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Keep kids reading over summer with these 5 tips

Is there anything better in this hot summer sun than to rush down a slide at a local splash parks?

Unfortunately, there’s another type of summer slide that you don’t want your kids to go down. This one is coined “summer learning loss” by researchers. Simply put, it means that when children don’t take time to read regularly and engage in other learning activities over the summer, they can slip, slide and lose some ground before school begins again in the fall.

Added up from year to year during elementary school, this “summer slide” can become quite the challenge for some kids. In fact, according to the National Summer Learning Association, “Summer learning loss in the elementary school years alone accounts for at least half of the ninth-grade reading achievement gap.”

Now, does this mean that we as parents need to set up boot camps and push the joy out of summer time? Absolutely not! I am the first to urge families to make those play dates, take those vacations, and simply enjoy the magic of time away from your school-year routines. There is life-long value both to creating memories and soaking up the learning that comes from these experiences.

My advice as a former teacher simply is to make reading a part of your summer break. And make it as novel and fun as you possibly can so that it becomes something your children look forward to rather than dread like afterschool homework.

Here are a few tips:

Come to Camp Read-a-Lot. Come kick your summer off right and visit us at Camp Read-a-Lot on Friday, June 15 from 2-7 p.m. at KPeas Place. The cost is $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Families will receive a free copy of my children’s book, Bucket 96: From Lemons to Clear Water, while supplies last. During this event, we will play reading-themed games, sing around the camp fire with Miss Karen, get messy with hands-on water experiments related to my book, and curl up to read under the “stars.” This event is especially designed for elementary-aged kids but both older and younger siblings are most welcome. Stay and play all afternoon or drop in for as long as you like. When you’re ready to hit the trail, make some s’mores mix to take along. For more information, call 813-814-4193 or read more about the event online at

Revive the read aloud. Sometimes the simplest approach is also the most effective. If you do nothing else with reading this summer, then read aloud every day with your kids. Hands down, the best read-aloud resource that I know of is Read-Aloud Revival. It is packed with free downloadable reading lists organized by age, topic, and more. Sarah Mackenzie, the author of The Read-Aloud Family and creator of the site, is a homeschooling mom who also hosts a free podcast. If this site doesn’t inspire you to read aloud as a family, probably nothing will! (A big thank you to local author Brooke Cooney for introducing me to the Read-Aloud Revival.)

Form a family book club. Pick a book or even better, a book series, that your family is interested in reading together. Choose a special time and spot to read the book daily. Can you pile pillows and blankets on the living room floor or read under your favorite tree in the backyard? Make this time memorable. You may choose to read aloud together or agree on a set amount to read then read silently together. Do take time to about what’s happening in the story, make predictions, critique the writing, compare characters in one book to another, etc.

Read and watch. Select one or more books that were made into films. Read the book together and then have a family movie night. You can have rich discussions to compare the book and movie versions of a story.

Revisit goodies but oldies. Go through your at-home library and make a trip to your local library as well to pick out old-time favorites. Think of all the books you used to read a million times when your kids were toddler and early elementary age. Also include books you loved as a child that you want to share with your children this summer.

Host a book swap. Check with some other families to see whether they want to set up a book swap. Children can recommend and share books with friends and go home with some “new” books of their own. Another option is to pick out some gently used books at home or a local thrift shop and then “trade” those in for another book at one of our local little free libraries. To see if there is a little free library you, search the Little Free Library map.

Tricia Offutt, author of the children’s book Bucket 96: From Lemons to Clear Water, is a Florida K-6 certified teacher and a journalist with more than a decade of experience. For more information, visit or

Copyrighted 2018 by Tricia Offutt. All Rights Reserved.

World Water Day: March 22!

Looking for fun, inexpensive ways to teach children about the importance of water for World Water Day on March 22? Check out the Bucket 96 World Water Day Resources Pinterest board!


Coming Soon: FREE Resources

Are you a parent or teacher who is using the Bucket 96 book to teach children about the need for clean water or to inspire generosity?

Bucket 96 Books is working on a set of free resources that you can use before, during, and after reading the book.

Stay tuned for more information! The tentative release date for the first set of free Bucket 96 resources is spring 2017 with more to come over time.

If there are any questions or requests you have in regards to resources, please email the author directly at


Five MILLION gallons!

Today, let's discuss a question that I know you must be thinking about day in and day out. What is it, exactly, that talking buckets do over their summer vacations?

You might expect to see us touring the world to meet with important dignitaries and such or taking in the rides at Disney World.

Good guesses, but, no. Instead, this summer, we decided to stick with what we do best: Save lives through clean water!

And you, our dear Bucket 96 book readers, helped us fulfill that mission.

Thanks to online sales, donations from awesome Bucket 96 fans, and the selling of Bucket 96 books at Luke's LemonAID sale this summer, we raised enough to fund five bucket systems that will go to families in Haiti.

Our co-author was like, "Just five?! But there are so many families who need help! Five isn't enough!"

So, then we had to calm her down (you know how temperamental writers can be) and tell her this: Every drop of clean water matters.

Allow us for a moment to put these five systems into perspective for you like we did for her. That's five entire families who no longer have to fear that dirty water will cause disease and death in their homes. That's five families that now can filter five MILLION gallons of water using Sawyer filters that are so sturdy and easy to care for that they can last for 10 years.

So, dear readers, will you spread the word? Will you tell others to buy the book? Will you help us double, triple, quadruple or better yet bill-zil-onize our book sales so we can help many more families?

Thank you so much!

I remain, as always, your dear friend,

Bucket 96

Bucket 96 Finds an Awesome Home

We are pleased to announce that Bucket 96: From Lemons to Clear Water now is also available at Living Water, a fantastic independently owned bookstore in Murphy, NC. If you're in the area, you can pick up an autographed copy of the book. Living Water is located at 3090 Hwy 64W in Murphy, NC. Check them out on Facebook; or call 828-837-9045 for more information.

Buy a copy of Bucket 96, donate to Luke's LemonAID!

It's that time again, Luke will be setting up his LemonAID stand next Tuesday, July 7 in Naperville, IL!

Each summer, Luke and his siblings -- Mitchell and Makayla (Coco) pitch in to raise money for clean water efforts in Haiti.

Their generosity is featured in the newly released book Bucket 96: From Lemons to Clear Water by Tricia Offutt.

Don't worry though if you can't make the trip to the Midwest for a glass of Luke's lemonade. You can still support the effort. Here's how:

From now through the end of July, anyone who purchases a copy of the book through or can opt to donate $3.95 per book purchased towards Luke's LemonAID. This does NOT raise your total price. It just lets us know that you want a portion of your purchase to be directly donated to Luke's fundraiser.

This unstoppable sibling team has raised thousands of dollars in a matter of a few years. Become a part of their Bucket 96 story!

Bucket 96 Launches His Blog!

Who knows what Bucket 96 might have to say now that he has his own blog. I've heard he will be including guest posts from such characters as Bossy Buck, the Little Lids, Mr. Sawyer, and even Double Oh-7. Stay tuned!

Here is the link for Bucket 96's site.