What Can Families Do to Keep Children Reading During the Summer

Summer Reading Tips

Just in time for the summer break, Leslie Garisto Pfaff from Parents magazine, has written a great article chock full of summer reading tips. It’s in the June ’08 edition and it’s titled Mind the Gap.
… “Research shows that kids who don’t crack a book during their time off experience the “summer slide” – a learning loss equivalent to three months or even more. … But your child can stay on track by reading just four books over break.”
As parents we are usually very aware of our children’s abilities and talents, sometimes we just need some extra tools to promote and encourage their learning. The article provided some really useful tips to which I have added a few ideas of my own:

Make it Social

  • Create family reading time: 20 minutes on a regular basis, when family members get together and read their own books.
  • Start a summer book club.
  • Swap party: Each invited child brings their favorite book, they explain why they love it, then they find someone to swap books with. The idea of deal making to swap books is said to “imbue it with special qualities.” The next event is scheduled a couple of weeks later to allow for another swap. At the end of summer the books could be given to a charity or donated to their school library.
  • Craft books allow for family participation or group activities, and still involve reading.

Let Him/Her Choose

  • Allow them to choose their own reading material: For some kids this can be a daunting challenge, so make a pile of books at your library or local book store which you think your child would like, and help with the choosing process. Reading the synopsis on the back cover or even reading the first paragraph can really help. It’s okay if they want to judge a book by its cover!
  • Comic books, graphic novels, and magazines may not be your first choice of quality literature, however if you have a reluctant reader it’s important to remember that the act of reading itself is more important than what they read. Even reading the rules to a board game or the back of a cereal box counts.
  • Picking out a how-to book is great for kids who like to stay busy and have trouble sitting.
  • For computer savvy kids check out these three websites.
  1. book.scholastics.com/summerreading
  2. kids-space.org
  3. rif.org/readingplanet

Set Reading up as a Challenge not a Chore

  • No nagging your kids to read: Instead, leave plenty of reading materials around your home, in the car, and inside backpacks or bags.
  • Resist imposing daily reading requirements: Try creating a family challenge by reading a set amount of books during the summer. Feel free to include an incentive if that works for you.
  • Set up a reading fund: For every book completed, your kids can take a trip to the local book store.

Don’t Forget to Discuss

  • Use questions such as: Who’s your favorite character? What made you laugh? Why were you scared? Which was your favorite chapter? Did you like the illustrations? How did you feel about the ending?
  • See a movie adaption, and read the book together. This always encourages lots of discussion.
  • Children can post an online review at bookreviewsbykids.com, enabling them to put their thoughts into words.

Here are some links to other summer reading articles from Parents magazine:

Reading List For One Hot Summer

How To Raise A Book Lover

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  • Hi,

    I grew up as a reluctant reader. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for boys 8 and up, that kids hate to put down. My web site is at http://www.maxbooks.9k.com and my Books for Boys blog is at http://booksandboys.blogspot.com
    Ranked by Accelerated Reader

    Max Elliot Anderson

    PS. Message in a bottle for kids

    June 2, 2008
  • Thanks for sharing your information, and for targeting reluctant readers! I think that your ‘Message in a Bottle’ is such a great idea.

    June 2, 2008
  • This Summer, ‘Read’ for the Gold… with Reading Is Fundamental! Go to RIF.org/summer and check out RIF’s 2008 Summer Reading Guide.

    Children 6-15 will enjoy the fun literacy-related games and activities on the RIF Reading Planet: RIF.org/readingplanet

    June 10, 2008
  • Great ideas. PBSKids.org also has a Read-a-Thon: http://is.gd/12JQ8. See which one fits your child and schedule best. Also, traveling on trips can be a great time to read. Favorite or new books within reach in cars or on planes keep ’em busy. Digital books are great for convenience, but try to download books that stay true to book form and aren’t animations of the story, to get the most reading benefit from the stories. Also look for digibooks that download in the format of your digital device, unless you have the specified reader, so that you can carry books with you for reading any time. Keep them reading all summer!

    MobiMom’s latest post can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/mobimom

    June 15, 2009
  • Thanks for all of the extra suggestions. I loved your tip from your latest post: Don’t fight TV

    Kids insist on watching tv? Try letting them… with the sound off and the closed caption on (sneakyyyyy)

    June 16, 2009

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