Summer is all about unwinding and taking a break from the routine and demands of the school year, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to take a vacation from reading. Experts tell us that kids lose core reading skills and are at risk of falling behind when they don’t read over summer break. Reading keeps them sharp and improves skills to prepare them for the next school year, and it helps to foster a life-long love of reading and learning. Whether it’s scheduled quiet time for toddlers or emerging readers to look at a book, young readers to read alone, or for a parent or sitter to read to a child, time with books is time well spent.
Here are helpful tips for encouraging kids to stick with the books this summer:
- Schedule time during your day, at least an hour, for kids to spend with books. The quiet time will be a welcome break for all of you.
- Be a good role model. When your kids see you read, whether it be a newspaper, magazine or a book, they see that reading is enjoyable and rewarding.
- Ask your sitter to spend time reading with your child.
- Have kids keep a reading journal. Keeping a record of the books they’ve read will give them a sense of accomplishment, which is a great motivator.
- Join a library story hour or reading group to make the time social and a good way to connect. Many libraries have parent/child story time or book discussions or programs for older kids to read to younger children.
- Make a visit to the library or book store a regular part of your summer routine. A weekly visit allows you keep your selection fresh.
- Encourage (and incentivize!) older siblings to read to younger siblings. They’ll both benefit from the time.
- Start a book swap with neighbors or friends so kids to share favorites and expand their reading choices. They may discover they enjoy genres they never would have chosen on their own.
- Join an online summer reading program or challenge to motivate kids. There are several good national programs, or find one locally: Barnes and Noble Summer Reading: Read 8 books, record them in a journal and win a free book. Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge: Kids Read for the World Record, enter sweepstakes to win fabulous prizes, and earn digital rewards when they complete weekly reading challenges. Scholasic provides an excellent app for recording reading time.
- Make sure books are easily accessible throughout your home. Make it as easy to grab a book as it is to turn on the TV or reach for the iPad.
- Make a habit of packing books to read on road trips and vacations, and keep a few in your car for easy reading while traveling. Many parents swear by audio books for car trips.
- Keep your Kindle or iPad well stocked with books for each of your children, and encourage them to read or look at a book, rather than choosing a game.
- Keep up the bedtime routine you have during the school year, including reading together at the end of the day.
- Spend some time exploring books that are age-appropriate so your child has choices that are engaging and a bit challenging, without being too difficult and frustrating for early readers. Amazon provides a good list of summer reading picks, divided by age groups starting with the baby – age 2 set.
We’re betting these tips will help even the most reluctant readers and the busiest toddlers learn to appreciate the joy that comes with reading a good book, even when the summer sun calls!