What if summer reading werer easy and natural? What if it became a coveted activity? How awesome would it be if kids wanted to read—asked to read—instead of speed-skimming a skinny list of books at the end of each summer?
There’s hope. Believe me. I’m confident that this summer can, and will, be different. Here are 5 surefire ways of getting your kids to read (and like doing it!) this summer:
1. Mix up your child's reading materials. Mix up your reading. Reading counts even if kids are not reading books every single day all summer long. Magazines totally count, so consider hitting the library and borrowing five issues of a really cool magazine. Tons of awesome, kid-friendly magazines are out there now, and they're fantastic bridges to reading related texts. Consider something like Sports Illustrated for Kids, Time for Kids, Highlights, American Girls, Discovery Girls, National Geographic Kids, or Princess Magazine.
Or go digital. Most libraries now have a digital media lending section. Seriously! Visit your local library and ask someone there, or find the “Electronic Library” or “Digital Media” sections of the library’s homepage. Digital books are SO fun—and they are actually very affordable!
Read the newspaper. If you don’t have a year-long subscription, order a summer-long subscription. Your kids may love to get that paper every day, and though the newspaper is primarily non-fiction, occasionally there are some great fiction pieces mixed in as well. Your child can stay on top of local, national, and world news, as well as read about a ton of other topics.
2. Make reading a part of your everyday schedule. It’s hard in the summer not to let the schedule go free, but schedules are smart, especially if we want kids to fall into habits and patterns.
If your kids head off to camp every day, make reading your “down-time” in the evening; the whole family reads together, maybe out loud or quietly to themselves. Or if your kids do swim team, get them up a half-hour earlier and start your day reading. If summer means your family is footloose and fancy free, then make your reading time that critical hour after lunch, when everyone needs to re-charge before the second part of the day.
3. Get stuck in a series. The best way to get kids hooked on reading is to have them really “fall” for a series. That way, they’re itching to read more, they want to know all they can about a topic, and they want to follow their favorite characters through more adventures.
If your child isn’t interested at all, read the first book together. Or you can read it out loud to him or her. Before you know it, your child may grab that book to get ahead, even when you’re not there!
I’m a huge fan of the many resources on the Open a World of Possible page. I also lean heavily on the Book Wizard for finding new books that work for my kids. Plus, there are book lists by age and topic here.
Most libraries also have age-appropriate reading lists for kids, and they can usually be printed from the library’s website or picked up at the building itself.
4. Be part of a challenge. Summer is a huge time for organizations and libraries to run challenges, and they do work for some children. It’s definitely worth checking out because many people need that added push to get rolling.
But if you’ve participated in the same challenge year after year, perhaps this is the year to find a new one. Or create your own family reading challenge. Maybe if each family member reads a certain number of books each week, everyone can do something fun together on the weekend? Maybe the goal is to log hours read or chapters read, or magazine articles read, or series completed? The challenge need not be books read—it can be anything you choose!
5. Make it cool to read. Really. If everyone’s doing it, kids are more likely to want to do it, too—it’s a basic fact of life. So why not host a small end-of-the-school-year Summer Reading Book Swap party? Make sure every child has a new book in hand before summer begins. At the get-together, show each child (and parent!) how easy it is to borrow eBooks on their electronic devices. That way, every person will have hundreds of books at his or her fingertips.
Do a weekly Wednesday morning or Friday afternoon Book Swap at the pool so each week families can grab a few new things to read. It can be as simple—or involved--as works for you!
How do you make Summer Reading totally fun and awesome in your house? Share your thoughts on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page, or find Amy on twitter, @teachmama, and let’s continue the conversation!
And join Scholastic and Raise A Reader writers Amy Mascott and Allie McDonald on May 6th from 9-10pm ET for a Facebook Chat focusing entirely on this topic. Join us!