We’re in the thick of it! Summertime! Summer of fresh fruit, splashes in the sun, water pistols, and sunscreen. Summer of mud baths, unstructured play, camping, and canoeing. Summer of ice cream, watermelon, lemonade, and fireflies. Whew! With all that busy-ness, who has time for reading, right? Adults know the value of summer reading: an opportunity to slow down, relax and improve our skills and knowledge. But for many kids, summer reading is a slow down they don’t want to take when they could be outside having fun in the sun. So, how can parents ensure kids keep reading this summer?
Whether your child loves reading or not, it’s important to keep him reading through the summer months so that, on the return to school in the fall, he hasn’t slipped down the slide. (For information on neutralizing the summer slide without overdoing it, read The Summer Slide, Is It Something To Fear?) What can you do? Encourage your child to read without making it a chore.
Implement Rest Hour
Every afternoon in our home, we have a rest hour. During that hour, everyone spends time doing something on his or her own, in his or her own space, quietly. I like to read a book or a magazine (it sets a good example and, usually, it’s a reward for me to get quiet time to read.) Sometimes the kids play LEGOs or do puzzles. Other times we’ll find them drawing or designing a cool new city for their Hexbugs or falling into a much-needed restful sleep. Usually, they end up reading a book for at least a part of that hour. Rest hour allows children to unwind and think on their own. When you provide quiet activities for a child to do and the time to do it, he’ll take himself into his own world and get lost in himself, which is critical for independent growth.
(Related: How to find books your child will love)
Join a summer reading club
A summer reading club allows young readers to set goals and gain rewards for completing their goals. Children will log the books they’ve read, and when they hit a “reward,” return their reading chart or log to receive a prize. Locally, you’ll find clubs at libraries, book stores, and by asking your friends to help you form one. Barnes and Noble is offering a program this summer, Imagination’s Destination, that awards children with a new book after reading and logging 8 books. The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge puts schools up against each other to log minutes read.
(Related: How to pre-screen tween books)
Create your own goals
With your child, create your own goals and rewards system. Stronger readers can track reading time or chapters, while new readers can track books or time. Come up with rewards your child desires–be it new books, staying up an extra hour, a trip for ice cream, or to the movies. Make sure your goals are reachable so that your child won’t have to wait all summer for a reward. Shelley at How Does She? Featured a fabulous program she created, Summer Reading STAR! (she included free printables!) that rewards children for reading with individually created prizes.
If you’re setting goals, don’t forget to check out my simple and free goal-setting guide and worksheets.
However, you encourage your children to read this summer, give them time, help them to find books, and make it fun. Happy reading!