With camp, swim lessons, play dates, and family vacations filling your kids’ summer days, it may seem like there's little time left over for reading. Don't worry, there are ways to get your child back in the habit before school begins.
Here are teacher-approved ways to help kids brush up on their literacy skills as they ease back into the school year.
1. Make Read-Alouds Interactive
For kids in early elementary grades, reading aloud is an especially important form of reading practice, though you might have to do a little extra to keep them fully engaged.
“Instead of reading straight through the story, make sure you're really getting them involved and asking a lot of questions about the story and talking about it after,” says Maya Lê Espiritu, an elementary school teacher in California. (Try these six strategies for improving your child's reading comprehension.)
Lê Espiritu suggests focusing on a book’s pictures and illustrations and pausing to discuss what kids are seeing, not just hearing. Do this and your kids are more likely to get excited about reading, because it makes them a true participant in the process.
The Word Collector is a charming story about a boy who discovers his love of language by gathering and sharing words. It's not only a great pick for your shared read-aloud, but will reinforce for your child the power and magic of reading.
2. Read the Same Book As Your Child
If you have a child in third, fourth, or fifth grade, Lê Espiritu recommends reading the same book alongside them.
“A lot of times when kids are told to read, it becomes an isolated incident,” she says. Reading the same book alongside your child transforms reading time into a social activity and allows meaningful discussion and conversation to develop organically.
Plus, if you’re reading the same book, you won’t have to ask basic questions about plot and setting — instead, you can kick the conversation off by sharing your thoughts and feelings about the book, which will inspire your kids to do the same and think critically about what they’re reading.
3. Leave Book Selection up to Your Child
Lê Espiritu recommends giving children the freedom to pick out the books they want to read.
“It's really fun for them to be able to choose,” she says. “They feel like they have more control and participation in it that way.”
Almost 90 percent of children say they love the books they choose, according to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report. When kids enjoy what they read, they're more likely to remember details of the story and increase their reading frequency.
Zen Shorts will open your child's eyes to a new way of seeing the world. This quietly impactful book, now a streaming series on Apple+, follows a panda in nature as he shares lessons of mindfulness, love, and enlightenment. It’s a great pick for inspiring meaningful conversations.
4. Re-read Your Child’s Favorites
For younger readers especially, re-reading books is important for reading development. “Every time you read a book, there is something new to notice or point out,” says Lê Espiritu. “Kids establish a connection and a familiarity with it, which really increases comprehension.”
So even if you’ve read a book to your child more times than you can count, don't be afraid to pick it up again and find a cozy place to read it aloud. Before you know it, they’ll be noticing details that lead them to topic-adjacent titles!
Where the Wild Things Are isn’t just a favorite of kids. Parents love reading about Max’s wild adventure over and over again, too. In fact, it may have been your go-to book in childhood. (Here are more timeless picture books you can revisit with your child.)
5. Combine Reading With Learning Activities
One of the most effective ways to get kids back on track with reading is to go beyond the book with fun activities, craft projects, or special outings.
“When reading integrates into your life, it’s impactful,” says Lê Espiritu.
For instance, if your child is reading an outdoor-adventure book, take a hike together to see what you can find in nature and make connections to the text. For younger readers, help them pick out a popular picture book, and then look online for a craft project or hands-on activity you know that celebrates a beloved character or setting.
The beautiful photos and clever riddles in I SPY Year–Round Challenger! are the perfect warm-up for a real-world I Spy game outside of the house. After reading, bring this book to life by strolling over to your child’s favorite park, the nearest trail, or just around your neighborhood and take turns spotting items.
Get ready for your child to go back to school with our guide — it's full of recommended books, teacher tips, homework help, and more resources for a successful school year. Plus, take a look at a list of books by grade level and tips to practice reading out loud.
Shop books to encourage a back-to-school reading habit before summer ends below. You can find all books and activities at The Scholastic Store.