Get kids excited about summer reading with these ten suggestions.
We all know reading over the summer is important for kids to avoid summer slide but how can parents encourage kids to read without making the task a grind?
I’ve got both an eager reader and a reluctant reader at home. The first will read anything at anytime, anywhere, and the second would rather be working on math problems or playing outside.
Different readers sometimes take different approaches to make reading fun but a few general rules apply.
Here are a few ways you can make reading enjoyable for your kids over the summer break and year round:
#1 Take the pressure off
Sure your son’s teacher gave you a chart saying he needs to read 20 minutes a day but sometimes putting a time limit on reading makes it more of a chore than a pleasure – and the goal is to raise kids who want to read.
Instead of emphasizing a time limit have a specific time of day when everyone reads in your house, such as the evening. This makes reading feel more like a fun group activity rather than a task your child needs to do on their own. And if your child sees you reading, he’s more likely to want to read himself. (see #9)
#2 Make reading about more than just reading
Kids love connection. They love spending time with their parents and feeling close. Reading is an easy way to connect with kids and associates reading with the warm cuddly feelings of being close to Mom or Dad.
When I can’t get my reluctant reader to read, she’s more willing to crack open a book when I suggest we read together, in a special way – such as:
- Cuddle up in bed and read either together or independently
- Build a fort outside or in the living room and read books inside
- Lay a blanket on the grass and enjoy the fresh air while getting lost in book
#3 Find the perfect book
Obviously. But sometimes finding the perfect book for kids is easier said than done. For picky readers, it might take multiple tries before finding a story they can get lost in.
Searching the stacks of books at the library is often the perfect solution, but sometimes life gets in the way and frequent trips to the library can’t happen often enough.
Whenever my reluctant reader rejects all the books in our house, I turn to Epic to find one that interests her. Think of Epic as the Netflix of children’s books. It provides access to 20,000 children’s books on your iPad or tablet, including audio books. My daughter loves scrolling through the selections, discovering new tales, and flipping through “pages” on her own.
We’ve discovered a lot of fun tales through Epic, and there’s something about reading on a tablet that makes the experience exciting for my daughter.
#5 Turn the library into an adventure
If you’re already visiting your local library on a semi-regular basis, mix it up by checking out nearby libraries within your network. Seeing new libraries can be like a mini-adventure for kids. New libraries also mean new books, a new librarian (with potentially new suggestions), and more often than not a new variety of books to explore.
Related: Nine Library Adventure Challenges
#5 Go beyond the book
A great way to show kids that reading is fun is to see theater productions or movies of books you’ve read. Seeing a story come to life animates a tale and makes it all the easier to imagine and take in.
Or if you’re feeling really inspired (and can spare the time) have kids act out a story you just read. Older kids might even want to produce their own play and present it to you when they’re done.
Anything that will increase your child’s desire to explore and hear stories will inspire them to seek out stories on their own.
#6 Be a stalker
If your child loves a certain author follow them online. Many authors have games, giveaways and answer questions about their books online. It’s also a great way to see if a favorite author will be visiting a local bookstore near you. Kids can also write to their favorite authors to tell them what they liked about their book and ask questions – and who knows – maybe they’ll write back!
#7 Set up a book club
Reading a book alongside other friends is a great way to stay motivated and engaged. Just like an adult book club, members can agree to read a book and then get together to discuss it on a certain date. Make the story come alive by creating props or serving food associated with the story. It can also be fun to watch a movie of the book after the group’s had a chance to discuss and analyze the story.
#8 Challenge your reader
Most local libraries offer summer reading challenges for kids – offering prizes or rewards if kids read a certain number of books over the summer, for example.
While these programs can motivate kids who love a challenge, it’s important that they don’t take away from kids’ natural enjoyment of reading. Scholastic also offers its own summer reading challenge.
#9 Model reading
You do realize you’re your kids’ superhero – right? They look to you for cues about what’s “normal”. So if kids catch you reading – and enjoying it – they’ll get the message that reading is simply something everyone does and enjoys.
And beyond just letting your kids catch you reading, talk to them about what you read. Mention a book you just finished that made you think or filled you with awe. Or what you learned from a recent news article about the benefits of eating chocolate after dinner – you get the idea.
#10 Read together
You know this already but I’ll say it anyway – reading to babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and even young adolescents is the best way to get kids interested in reading. Period. Here’s why it’s important:
- Before they’re able to read, hearing books read from you creates a love of stories and tales
- Hearing literature exposes kids to vocabulary they may not encounter in conversation
- Stories stimulate kids imagination and enlarges their understanding of the world
- Reading to kids after they become independent readers can increase their knowledge and motivate them to improve their skills
Other ways to strengthen kids’ literary skills this summer:
- For some kids magazines are more compelling than books. Some of our favorites include Cricket Magazine‘s Faces & Cricket magazines as well as National Geographic’s Kids. Stone Soup is also a fun one since it’s written and illustrated by kids.
- Encourage kids to write by purchasing a fun journal they can take with them to camp or on a trip.
- These Just Between Us: Mother & Daughter No Rules, No Stress journals can also be a fun way to get kids writing
- Have kids publish their own book with Scribblitt. Options include printing a hardcover book and a comic book. Prices range from $16.99 to $24.99.
- Play a game of Scrabble, Boggle, or Super Sleuth.
- Audiobooks can be a great way to pass the time during long road trips. See: 40 Favorite Audiobooks for Kids.
- Also a fun way to pass the time while traveling: Mad Libs.
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