I started each of my three children on the road to reading with the same routine — snuggling with a book at bedtime, taking reading breaks during the day, visiting the library for story hour. Yet each became a reader in his own way, at his own pace. My eldest son, an early nonfiction nut, was big on biographies and the sports pages, while my middle child, a girl, fell in love with dreamy stories. My youngest son is more of an obligatory reader, but when he finds a subject that interests him, he’ll devour everything he can get his eyes on.
Everyone brings a different level of passion to reading. For some, it’s second nature. For others, it can feel more like a chore or even a struggle.
But no matter what type of reader you have at home, summer presents a unique opportunity for building on that passion.
The season’s laid-back vibe combined with school vacation gives kids more time to luxuriate over books — and read anything they want. "Summer is a wonderful time for kids to explore their interests," says Ron Fairchild, executive director of the National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. "So let them explore, without passing judgment on their choices."
To learn more about the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, click here.
Readin’ ‘n’ Relaxin’
While the weather is nice and the days are carefree, why not share a book (or two, or four) with your child in a hammock or under a tree? You’ll not only encourage her reading, you’ll sneak in some important learning. Of course, summertime is full of temptations. You may find your reluctant reader leaning toward video games, but don’t sweat it. "It’s not an either-or situation," notes Fairchild. "Provide balance." To grow your summer reader, Fairchild suggests these practices.
Continue the routine. Maintain your family’s school year habits: stock up on magazines, give books as birthday gifts, visit the library weekly, read the paper at breakfast (yes, the sports or entertainment pages count!). These routines are especially important for boys, who tend to develop into readers more gradually than girls.
Choose the right books. It’s important to know your child’s reading level (ask his teacher if you’re unsure) to help him make a proper choice and avoid the frustration that comes from books that are over his head. Additionally, allow him to choose the topic that interests him most from his school’s suggested reading list, whether it’s monsters, muffins, or motorcycles.
Offer rewards. Fairchild advises a long-term reward plan that includes keeping a log of books read and setting benchmarks to hit over the summer. As for a reward, Fairchild discourages a material gift, and instead suggests giving kids what they need and want most—time with you alone and a special experience. Try a trip to a park, museum, or sports event.
Listen to a book. Drive time is prime time. If you’re taking a road trip for vacation, bring along an audio-book series that everyone likes.
Be a reading role model. Show your kids that you like to read and keep reading materials in every room. In the kitchen, read recipes together. Let your child get and open the mail. Stack books and magazines in the bathroom and on your bedroom nightstand. Bring something to read during train rides or in the waiting room.
Extend the experience. "Make reading a social activity, not a solo activity," advises Fairchild. Take trips to the local bookstore as a family, attend a children’s book author reading, use a favorite book as the theme for your child’s birthday party, or spend time reading together relaxing by the pool or lake or after a picnic lunch in the park. Your kids won’t want to be left out of the fun!