School is out for the summer soon! I love summer vacation. I’m ready to let the schedule go a little bit, say good-bye to forms to sign and reading calendars, stop packing sack lunches every morning, and, of course, not have to go to work myself.
As I listen to teachers talking around me, the number one concern is that their students will lose learning over the summer. Working in education, I know how important regular summer reading is for our children.
It really makes all the difference when September rolls around again. Children who don’t read regularly over the summer can lose as much as two grade levels on their reading skills. If your child loves to read, spending time in a book this summer will probably come naturally.
For those that don’t it can be a struggle and unfortunately, these young students probably need it the most. Whether your child loves to read or not, here are some ideas to encourage and enjoy reading this summer.
Summer Reading Tips to Keep Your Child Reading
Schedule Summer Reading Time
Make a daily summer schedule for your family. Even though I am ready to loosen up in the summer, children need the structure a schedule provides. I alway have a morning schedule and free the kids to play after lunch. I also plan a day just for fun activities. My morning schedule will always include a certain amount of time for reading.
Join In Summer Reading!
Once you have set a time of day for reading, join in! With young children you will be doing the reading, of course. But even if your children are independent readers, sit down with a book yourself and read along side them. Your example will speak volumes.
Another twist to your summer reading time would be to read chapter books out loud as a family group. Surprisingly young children will love hearing you read your favorites to them. A friend of mine just read Charlotte’s Web to her children ages 3 and 6. They loved it! Make sure and mix in some time when your children read on their own if they are school age.
Follow Up Activity
When you finish a read-aloud, follow it up with a fun activity. For example if you read Charlotte’s Web, visit a local farm and feed the pigs. Or look for beautiful spider webs in your yard. Draw a spider web with white crayon on a black construction paper to display. You could also add activities to books that your child reads on their own.
Special Summer Reading Location
Make a special summer reading place in your home. Maybe a corner with fun pillows. A fort made with blankets over a table. It could even be outside in a tree house or near a fairy garden. A special reading place makes the reading an adventure.
Set a goal as a family for how many pages (or minutes) you will read over the summer. When you hit that goal, have a reward such as a fun family activity. Another friend of mine took all her kids to a local theme park if they achieved their goal of reading 500 pages over the summer.
Use Your Local Library
Check out your local library for reading clubs and activities. Our library has booklets for the children to fill out as they read different types of books. They can take their booklet in for prizes as they finish pages. These types of activities are particular fun for preschool and early elementary aged children.
Change of Scenery
Take your reading time with you. Read at a park and then follow with a picnic and playtime. Your active children will love the combination. And who doesn’t love reading on a picnic blanket under a tree? Find a quiet corner to help with distractions.
Vary The Genre
Mix up the type of books that you read. Especially in older elementary, children can get stuck in one genre or only read books from a certain series. Add some non-fiction books to your reading time.
This is especially fun if you add a follow up activity. You could learn about gardening and then plant your own garden. Research a vacation location. Read a book about panda bears and then plan a visit to a zoo.
Start a Book Club
Start your own summer reading book club with neighbor friends. Join your child with a few other children of the same age. Take turns choosing a book and reading it before a certain date. Meet together on a given date.
Moms can help facilitate a discussion, provide a snack, and have a fun activity. We did this one summer when my son was in about 3rd grade. We had about 5 boys and met every other week. Each Mom took one turn facilitating a meeting over the summer.
The boys had a great time, although I almost got myself banned for choosing the sad book Love That Dog.
Make Summer Reading Fun
While it is great when kiddos take off with a love of learning early one, for some this isn’t always the case. Create a reward program for your kids to help motivate them to read. This can work for children that both love to read or ones that are more reluctant to do it outside of school. For younger kids, create a sticker chart that allows the child to put a sticker on the board for each chapter or pages read. Once they get to a certain amount of things read, let them pick out a prize or experience to celebrate. For older children, reward overall books read with money or other rewards that interest them. For example, if they read a book, take them out for an ice cream. You will have to adapt this for each individual child.
Create Interactive Literary Experiences
Many children’s chapter and picture books are set in real places with real characters. Why not provide your children with books that have these types of settings, so that you can take them to visit some of the places. For example, if your child reads a book about trains then bring them on a road trip to see and even possibly ride on a train. Get create with this and keep it interesting.
Play Off of Interests
Hop on Amazon or down to the local library and pick up books that the kids have interests in. Get your child’s opinion on things they might want to learn about or the types of books they might want to read. Also, don’t limit reading to just books.
Consider magazines, comic books or graphic novels as a form of reading as well. Any genre or type of reading is a great when it comes to trying to keep your kids reading this summer.
Get the Whole Family Involved
The family that reads together has fun together! Make reading a fun competition between family members. Track each book or item each family reads and go back to the before mentioned reward system.
A healthy competition among family members is a great way to get everyone busy with reading. Another idea is to pass around books among members of the family. Depending on reading levels, some books can be shared with each member of the family.
Gather the entire family around at night and read a chapter of a family favorite, such as the Harry Potter series out loud. Let each child take a turn to read a chapter out loud. If a chapter is too much, allow them to simply read a page.
Allow the children to act out a scene as it is read if any of them have a flare for it. A summer reading program will not only help your child succeed in school, but will create a life-long love. I read Summer of the Monkeys one summer to my children. It was a haul! The book is super descriptive and slow at times, not to mention quite long.
But, I still remember the tender moment we had as we reached the ending and read about Daisy’s sacrifice. The time we had invested in the book made the characters so important to us! Happy Reading!