9 Fun Ways to Get Kids Reading This Summer

5 04 2017
Mother helping daughter read book in library

Let your child take the lead in selecting books to read. (SAM BLOOMBERG-RISSMAN/GETTY STOCK IMAGES))

Did you know that kids can lose crucial reading progress during summer break? Fortunately, reading just a few books before school starts can save kids from losing those school-year achievement gains.

Parents play a crucial role in their children’s reading attitudes and behaviors, as well as helping them find the right book to capture their interest. Here are ways to get kids reading and help them develop a lifelong love of books:

Let your child pick. Most kids say their favorite books are ones that they choose. Kids also admit not reading if they don’t like what we select. So, get your child involved. Take him to the library or bookstore or show him online resources, such as ALSC Summer Reading Lists or Common Sense Media, so he gets a choice. While you’re at the library, join the summer reading program, if you haven’t already, so your child will have even more incentives to read.

Make sure the books match your child’s reading level. Check your child’s last report card or reading achievement scores for clues. You can also teach your child the five finger book rule: Have your child turn to any page and start reading. The child should put a finger up for each word he or she doesn’t know. If your child holds up five fingers, try another book.

Think outside the book. Don’t be too picky about what your kid reads. Cereal boxes, cartoons, the sports page, baseball cards and graphic comic book novels are fine. Find what piques your kid’s interest. What are her hobbies? What are other kids reading? Remember, what’s most important isn’t literary merit but getting your kid to feel comfortable with reading.

Carve out reading time. Kids say a big reason they don’t read for fun is that there just isn’t enough time. Set aside time so reading becomes a daily family routine. Eliminating just one TV show or activity could free up 30 minutes a day to read. Or give your kid the option of doing the dishes or reading a book. I’m betting your child will choose the book.

Make reading material accessible. Stash books in backpacks, bathrooms and cars, set them on the dining room table or put them in baskets, so it’s easy to pick them up quickly during a lull.

Build your home library. Research finds the number of books in a home strongly influences academic performance. You don’t have to break the bank, but you do need to have reading materials available. Dig out that library card. Go to library sales or book fairs. Stop at garage sales. Subscribe your kid to a magazine tailored to her interests, such as “Sports Illustrated Kids,” “Discovery Girls,” “Highlights” or “National Geographic Kids.” Or set up a book exchange with your neighbors.

Start a summer book club. Find other kids that your child can read with as part of their playdate activity. Start a kid-parent book club with other parents. Initiate reading parties at different kids’ homes: Everyone brings their favorite book, serve snacks and then let the reading begin!

Be a movie critics. Encourage your child to read a book, and then watch the movie version – and consider inviting your kids’ friends or neighbors to join them. “Harry Potter,” “Wonder,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” “The Outsiders” or “Hatchet” are a few favorites. Have the kids debate if the book or movie was better.

Read aloud. Studies find that most kids stop reading for enjoyment around the age of 8, which is also the same age we usually stop reading to our kids. So, keep reading aloud. Set the amount of time you read to match your child’s attention span, and gradually extend it. Have each family member who is old enough to be able to read take a turn, or have different family members act out parts of the book as they read.

Reading improves vocabulary, comprehension, test scores and attention span, and books can transport children to other worlds and transform their hearts. Reading can also help our children be more open to differences, cultivate new perspectives and nurture their empathy. Helping our kids learn to love books can instill lifelong memories and be one of our greatest parenting legacies. So go grab a book, and encourage your kids to do the same!


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