An important reason kids need to read over the summer is to keep their skills sharp. Just like learning a new sport, if you don't practice regularly, you'll get rusty. In education, we call it the summer slide. That's when kids lose some of their academic skills from lack of practice. Then we need to spend the first few weeks of the new school year relearning them.
The best way to stop the summer slide is to keep your kids reading. You don't need do spelling drills or give them a list of comprehension questions. All you have to do it make reading a fun part of daily life.
How to Keep Your Child Reading This Summer
So how do you get kids to make books part of their summer vacation? Here are my 12 best tips. (Teachers, scroll down for a printable list that you can send home with your students.)
Ask your child about their reading
Create an inviting spot for reading
Make a special time for reading every day
Start a family book club
Keep a stash of books in the car
Read to your children - even if they are in middle school
Ask your local bookstore about their summer reading program
Let's take a closer look at a few of my favorite ways to build a love of reading even during the summer...
Show off your own reading habit
If you don't read, your child most likely won't want to read either. So be a good example! That doesn't mean you have to sit down with a long novel every night. Just let your kids see you reading SOMETHING every day.
One of my favorite things to read is a cookbook. I LOVE them! The pictures are amazing. I enjoy trying new recipes. And let's not mince words - I love to eat. Even reading a cookbook shows a child that reading has a purpose and doesn't have to be boring.
Whatever it is that you like to read (back of the cereal box? street signs?), the important thing is to let your kids see you doing it!
Visit the public library and get a library card
This might seem like a no-brainer, but getting your kids their own library card is powerful. It's almost like giving them a wad of cash to go shopping. Make it a big event, hype it up.
When my kids were little, I got them their own little wallets to keep their cards in. They could hardly contain their excitement! Then, when they realized they could pick out 2, 5, even 10 books - whatever they wanted - wow!
Please don't be a dictator at the library and tell your kids what books to check out. That's a great way to ruin all the fun.
Find books that match your child's interests
A lot of kids are reluctant readers. Maybe they haven't found many books about topics they enjoy. Maybe reading is just hard. The struggle is real. But you can help by seeking out the right kind of books. Just because a certain book or series is popular doesn't mean it's good for YOUR child.
Some ideas for reluctant readers - comic books, graphic novels, how-to and craft books. I highly recommend getting at least one children's magazine subscription.
Here are some great ones for variety of interests and ages:
National Geographic Kids (older children)
Nat Geo Little Kids (younger children)
Ranger Rick (for animal lovers)
Sports Illustrated Kids
Kazoo (geared toward girls)
Jack and Jill
Click (by Cricket)
Magazines are particularly good for kids with ADHD. They have shorter articles and stories, lots of picture support, and don't require the reader to follow a long storyline or plot. It's easy to read a magazine in small doses, put it down, and pick it back up later.
Create summer reading challenges
There's nothing wrong with rewarding kids for reading. Plus, it's a fun way to teach them about setting goals. To create your reading challenge, decide on a prize. It can be as simple as going for an ice cream cone, getting to stay up an extra half hour at night, or doing a fun activity together. Next set a reading goal with your child (a certain number of minutes or books or to read every day for a week). When the goal is reached, they earn the prize! Then you can set a new goal.
Here's are some free summer reading bookmarks your child can use to track their reading. Just click the image to get them from the Free Resource Library:
Utilize audio books
This really does actually count as reading! Audio books help kids develop strong listening comprehension. They also let them access literature that might have a reading level a little bit too difficult for them to read themselves.
Two of my favorite online sources for audio books are Storyline Online and GetEpic. Storyline Online has a great selection of classic and newer books read aloud by celebrities and other famous people. GetEpic has a vast selection of children’s books for kids of all ages in every genre you can think of. It's fantastic for home or classroom use! If your child has a documented learning disability, you'll want to check out Bookshare - the largest source for free accessible books online.
Another great resource for audio books is the library. Most public libraries have audio books you can check out and many have online borrowing where you can download books right onto your tablet or phone.
Create Lifelong Readers
These tips won't just keep your kids reading this summer - They will also go a long way toward creating lifelong readers! And the best part is that all of these ideas are easy and free.
If you have some other great summer reading ideas, let me know in the comments below!
Teachers, do you want to share some of these ideas with your parents?
Download this tip sheet for parents from the Free Resource Library.
It includes 9 easy ways to keep kids engaged and interested in reading over the summer.
Kick off summer with these fun end of the year resources:
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