Research shows that students who read regularly over the summer retain much more knowledge from the previous school year than their non reading counterparts. How does a parent encourage reading over the summer without making it seem like a chore? Here is a summer full of fun ways to keep your child’s nose in the books:
1. Set a good example. Children are more likely to imitate our actions than listen to our words. Let your kids see you reading a variety of materials often. (Cookbooks, magazines, and that juicy romance novel all count!)
2. Make visiting the public library part of your summer routine. (Don‘t forget to pick something out for yourself too.) Everyone in the family who is potty trained should have his or her own library card. Follow your weekly library adventure by something enjoyable like a visit to the park or the ice cream shop.
3. Don’t take the Suggested Summer Reading List too seriously. If your child is interested in checking out some of them, go for it, but remember, they are only suggestions.
4. Read aloud to your child, no matter how old he or she is. Make it more interactive by “partner reading.” Read a page to your child, then switch and let your child read a page. If reading is a struggle, start by reading several pages yourself first and gradually decrease your pages until your child builds stamina and is reading every other page.
5. Throw out the “rule book.” Let your child read barefooted or while petting the family dog. Encourage your child to read books that are not necessarily geared for his or her age group or gender.
6. Provide a comfortable and inviting reading space. Think fluffy pillows and favorite stuffed animals thrown in a cozy corner of the family room.
7. Strategically place books all over the house: on the coffee table, on children’s nightstands, on the kitchen table, by the family computer, and even in a magazine rack in the bathroom.
8. Reading need not always be an indoor activity. Enjoy the weather by reading outside under a shade tree, on a swing, or by the pool.
9. Have a reading slumber party. Let the kids stay up as late as they want as long as they are reading. Make it more fun by reading under the covers with a flashlight.
10. Subscribe to a magazine in your child’s name. There are many to choose from including Highlights for Children, National Geographic for Kids, and Sports Illustrated for Kids.
11. Help your child get “hooked” on a series of books that interests him or her or the works of a favorite author.
12. Ask grandparents or other relatives to write your child letters or emails. Kids will be delighted to read something written just to them.
13. When your children ask a question, help them look up the answer.
14. Assign everyone in the family a character and read a book aloud using different voices for each character. Make it even more theatrical by including costumes using clothes from closets and dressers all over the house.
15. Stash books in the car for times when you are stuck in traffic, sitting in the drive thru line, or waiting for soccer practice.
16. Vary the types of books available to your child from educational non fiction selections to joke books.
17. Camp out in the backyard and read books by moonlight, starlight, or flashlight. Ghost stories are especially dramatic read this way.
18. Cook a meal or dessert while your child reads you the recipe.
19. Reading does not have to always include traditional books. Try comic books, magazines, word puzzles, or an electronic book reader like Nook or Kindle.
20. Make use of audio books available at most bookstores and libraries. These are great for car trips.
21. When kids insist on watching TV, compromise with them by leaving it on but turning the volume off and switching over to closed captioning. They get to “read” their favorite show while mom and dad enjoy the peace and quiet.
22. Offer to take your child to see (or rent) the latest children’s movie based on a book, but only after you have read the book together. Children may be surprised that they enjoy the book even more than the movie.
23. Have a family karaoke night. Kids will have so much singing they won’t even realize they are reading!
24. Ask older siblings to read a book to younger ones. It gives big kids an excuse to enjoy a book they would like to pretend they have outgrown.
25. Include reading material when you pack for vacation.
26. Give books as gifts and rewards. Make it even more personal by attending a book signing and have a book autographed by the author.
27. Assemble a craft or model with your child by reading the instructions for a change.
28. Let your child order off the kid’s menu. Pointing to the picture doesn’t count. He or she has to read it to the waiter (or into the driver thru speaker.)
29. Play board games like Scrabble or Boggle. Even reading those little squares when you move your pawn or the cards from the pile in the middle counts as reading.
30. Enroll your child in your local library’s summer reading program. Stay for story time while you are there.
by Lori Jordan-Rice, author of the “Miss Trimble’s Trapdoor” children’s history adventure book series