Holiday breaks and chilly winter weekends offer the perfect excuse to encourage kids to snuggle under a warm blanket with a cup of hot cocoa and their favorite book. And whether your child is an enthusiastic bookworm or a little less excited about the whole idea, these suggestions are designed to help keep them turning the pages (and maybe even enjoying it!) over the break from school.
1. Try a reading challenge. Both my six- and ten-year-old are now voracious readers, but I wasn’t always sure it would be so. When my ten-year-old was first learning to read, it took a lot of encouragement to motivate her to read aloud — she much preferred sitting back while she was read to! To help her overcome her reluctance I did two things. First, I made sure that we had fun books on the shelves that she could read with a relative degree of independence. (Check out our top book recommendations for kids ages 6 to 7.)
Next, I challenged her to read 20 minutes a day. Many children respond well to a little competitive challenge, and research has found that reading just 20 minutes a day exposes children to 1.8 million words a year and dramatically improves standardized test scores. If you prefer, ask your child to read a certain number of pages per day.
2. Hook kids with a book set. What better time than the holidays to gift your child a complete set of books to keep them reading? My 'Miss 10' suggests you can’t do better than the Wings of Fire set (for kids in third to sixth grade) — she is literally counting the days until the next book in the series is released. If, however, dragons aren’t your thing (gasp!), you can browse a heap more book set suggestions for children of all ages.
3. Share similar titles. If your child has a book or book series that he already really enjoys, consider a "read-alike" — those are books that explore the same genre, or a similar subject or storyline. For example, check out these suggestions related to three popular middle grade reads:
- What to Read Next If Your Child Loved Wonder
- What to Read After the Diary of the Wimpy Kid Series
- What to Read Next If Your Child Loved A Wrinkle in Time
4. Find other books or series by an author your child already enjoys. For example, once my daughter moved on from Rachel Renee Russell’s Dork Diaries series, I was pretty confident that she would become fan of The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero, the first book in the Misadventures of Max Crumbly series, by the same author…and I was right!
5. Don’t forget non-fiction! If your child is super passionate about science, nature, history or geography, be sure to check out non-fiction titles related to her interest. Or, hook kids with the wild, wacky and wonderful achievements hiding between the pages of the annual Guinness World Records book.
6. Take reading on the road. Traveling during the winter break? Don’t forget to pack a paperback for the journey or try an audiobook. Audiobooks offer a novel way to re-visit a much-loved title or to try something new. Check out the suggestions in this age-by-age guide to the best audiobooks for kids to get you started.
7. Finally, make time to read together as a family. Kids of all ages love it when their parents read aloud to them. Start out by choosing a book the whole family will enjoy, and then commit to making time each day to slow down, snuggle together and enjoy the closeness of reading together.