How to Prevent a Reluctant Reader From Falling Behind Over the Summer

These unexpected activities will keep your child’s skills sharp all season long.

Jun 27, 2019



prevent the summer slide with reading

Jun 27, 2019

There’s plenty of research and discussion around the summer slide, the loss in academic skills and knowledge that occurs when school is out. Some kids may not pick up a single book on their own during the summer, and as a result, they might start the school year behind. This may be especially true for reluctant readers.

However, you can encourage the joy of reading — and learning — all season long.

In fact, according to findings from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™: 7th Edition, kids know that reading provides benefits that extend well beyond the summer months: Seventy-seven percent agree that reading over the summer will help them during the school year. 

One of the best ways to keep kids learning is to join the Scholastic Summer Reading-a-Palooza, a summer reading program designed to develop lifelong readers by encouraging reading for fun during the summer. This year, kids can experience the challenge through Scholastic Home Base, a free digital destination which offers stories, characters, and games, in a safe community for readers!

Through Home Base, kids can make new friends, earn virtual rewards, and help unlock book donations for kids with limited or no access to books by starting and keeping “reading streaks” when they read every day over the summer. Learn more about the challenge here!

You can also follow these six smart strategies to engage your reluctant reader in simple (but meaningful) reading experiences.

1. Make reading purposeful.

Going on a day trip? Give your reluctant reader the responsibility of planning part of the outing. They could research costs for the trip, calculate travel time, find directions or public transport options, explore event specifics, or even offer options for eating out by reading maps or travel guides.

These types of fun assignments give reading purpose, and can help boost your child’s skills, even if they’re done online. In fact, travel information presented on most websites is broken up into short, succinct paragraphs that are generally easier to read and comprehend than longer texts.

2. Sneak reading into your daily plans.

Instead of telling your kids what’s on the agenda for the day, how about writing to them about it? Tape a daily note (the more details, the better!) about the day’s plans onto the refrigerator or write it on a family white board.

Alternatively, make a list of things you need your children to get done during the course of the day, or create a list of fun summer activities you’ve done so far and what you’d still like to try. These are all little ways to keep engaging your child with print on a daily basis.

3. Add captions to the TV. 

There’s been more interest in recent years in the power of captioned or subtitled media to assist struggling readers. In fact, research has found that it can lead to positive improvements in a wide range of skills, including reading fluency, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension. 

4. Get puzzled!

Games, trivia, crossword puzzles, word sleuths, and even a joke of the day are all fun and simple ways to engage children with text on a daily basis. After all, when kids are scanning instructions to learn how to play a game or chuckling at a good punch line, they’re reading!

5. Consider your child’s current obsession.

Whether it’s a sport, video games, a popular TV show, dragons, or slime making, chances are there’s a book to match your child’s interest. Starting with something your child is already curious about can be a powerful motivator for them to open a book — and eventually seek out more reads on the topic.

6. Find the perfect book!

The Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report found that 59 percent of infrequent readers have trouble finding books to read. Kids sometimes need our help to find books they might like, and that can involve offering a wide variety of reading material until your child finds something that clicks. It may be a fairy tale, a graphic novel, or a nonfiction guide to video games. 

Shop the best books for reluctant readers below! You can find all books and activities at The Scholastic Store

For more tips on finding books at the right level for your child, visit our guide on reading levels for kids. You'll find plenty of helpful recommendations and insights including advice on motivating boys to readteacher-recommended books for striving readers, and much more. 

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