Those back to school ads are all over your t.v. screen and you’re clinging to the last weeks of summer vacation. You may have started your school shopping, and you’re probably wishing you’d insisted on more summer reading time for the kids.

And, it’s true. The kids who read regularly all summer will have a leg up on those who let their reading skills slide over summer break. But, all is not lost. There are still a few weeks to flex those reading muscles.

Next time you sit down to read aloud with your child or have him (her) read to you, take the time to do a story retell. Retelling a story is an enjoyable way to pack a lot of comprehension into a short space. You’ll hit the main characters and the beginning, middle and ending of the story line. You’ll talk about the setting and how it affected the character action. You might even explore some “what ifs” about the story. “What if Goldilocks had escaped before the three bears came home? What if Curious George learned self-control?”

If your child isn’t able to remember the story line, you can help with reminders and prompts. “What happened first, next, last? Where did the story take place? Was there a lesson in the story? Why did the characters act as they did? It’s not so important to remember small details such as the color of a character’s clothing, but it is important to remember the main ideas, the story line, the characters and the setting.

The best part is retelling a story is fun. You can even have your child act out some of the scenes or read the dialogue from the story in theatric voice. You might decide to do a craft or art project based on a favorite story to celebrate the reading enjoyment and cement important comprehension pieces in place.

Didn’t read as much as you wanted to this summer? Get a move on now, and do some story retells together.