Bedtime reading may be a mainstay in your home, but if you're like most (if not all) parents, your schedule can get a little disheveled during the summer months. Between long road trips, campfires, and outdoor movies, it's easy for reading time to take the backseat.
However, it's extra important for kids to read consistently during the summer to keep their langage skills sharp for the year ahead. One great way to do that is to join the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge, a free, educational program in which your kids can enter their reading minutes to unlock exclusive digital rewards and help donate books to kids in need.
You can also try these smart strategies to make reading especially fun and easy throughout the summer season. Not to worry: We're busy parents just like you, so the tricks we love are ridiculously simple — and they'll help your child become a happy, avid reader.
1. Keep "bedtime" the same as during the school year, but let your growing bookworms stay up an extra 30 minutes to read in bed. This way, story time becomes a special treat your child looks forward to as she starts her nighttime routine. Add The Little Red Fort to your nighttime "to-be-read" pile to start the summer off strong: A spunky, feminist adaptation of The Little Red Hen, it tells the story of inventive Ruby, who proves her brothers wrong when they snicker at her and say she can't build.
2. Make a special bedtime basket with a collection of books that gets them excited to read. These reads might include some of their old favorites, plus more recent releases that pique their interest, like Clifford the Big Red Dog: It's Pool Time or Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond: Game of Stars! Surprise your kids by occasionally adding new titles to the basket to keep the excitement thriving throughout the summer.
3. Encourage your kids to take turns being the bedtime reader. Many siblings love reading to each other, and while there may be no time to do so on a school night, summer is the perfect opportunity to have a little more fun before bed. You can also take turns reading with your kid — either way, planning a joint read-aloud session will help keep everyone accountable on lazy summer nights. The Bad Guys series is a great pick that will help your kids try out different character voices (and have a blast doing it). In the latest book in the series, The Bad Guys in Superbad, the oh-so-memorable characters Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, and Mr. Shark finally have their chance to be superheroes, even if their powers are a little wacky.
4. Take a minute to order a book so it arrives as a little surprise on vacation! If you're spending a week at Grandma's or at your sister-in-law's summer cabin, schedule it to arrive while your family is there (as a bonus, it'll provide a sweet activity for your loved ones to do with your child). We all know kids love getting packages, and an unexpected book surprise can be the perfect inspiration for a bedtime story that you might otherwise skip on vacation. One great family read is Drawn Together, the story of how a little boy and his grandfather who have a language barrier learn to communicate through artwork.
5. Prep ahead with a book set your kid loves. This way, you have the next book ready and waiting. It's really the easiest way to choose summer books — pick a series your kids are into, and you'll never have to guess about what they want to read next. Start with language-boosting book sets like Pete the Cat: Big Reading Adventures: 5 Far-Out Books in 1 Box! and the Who Would Win? Value Set (Pack of 8).
6. Follow a fun, simple theme. It's a great way to get kids excited about bedtime reading and connect it to their everyday life. For instance, you could match your bedtime reading to what your kids are up to during the summer: One week can feature science-themed books like What If You Had T. Rex Teeth? if they're learning about animals in daycare, and another can include action-packed books like Moby Shinobi: Ninja on the Job if they're going through that "everything-must-be-an-obstacle-course" phase.
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