If you have a child who is school age then you have probably heard how important reading over summer break is for your child. You will hear about Summer Slide and how to avoid it. It sounds so scary when you see the statistics of how fast kids can lose traction with their reading if they spend all summer not reading. It is scary how fast it can happen but it does not need to cause stress. There are some fun and easy ways to encourage reading in your children.
Summer Reading Programs
I am a former teacher turned part time librarian, so as you can guess my first tip is check out your local library. Almost all libraries across the United States spend all year gearing up for Summer Reading. They spend months finding the most fun ways to bring reading to life for all ages. I always tell parents to first start by finding the closest library. Sign up for a library card, find out about summer reading, and explore the shelves. You may be shocked at what your local library has to offer, especially in this day of digital access. Find out if your library has Libby or Overdrive, those are programs that allow you to use your library card to download books to your tablet or phone for free. Great for road trips or busy camp schedules that make it hard to get to a physical building. My kids love the summer reading challenges offered at our library. They love working towards fun prizes and it allows them to work towards something they can easily see and understand. The Nashville Public Library has a huge challenge happening all summer and great programs at each location for all the Davidson Moms. I also know Cheatham County and Williamson do as well.
In addition to local libraries, many businesses offer Summer Reading Programs as well. You can earn a free book at Barnes and Noble; earn 10 free tokens with Chuck E. Cheese Reading Rewards; even Pottery Barn Kids offers a Summer Reading Challenge. Keep your eyes open at places you shop for more summer reading programs.
Consistent Reading Time
We try to read at least 20 minutes a day. This can get tricky with busy summer fun schedules. However, I have found a few tricks to working it in. We keep books in the seat pockets in front of both my kids, and when we are driving they can read in the car. Sometimes we even pick an audio book up from our library and play that and enjoy it as a family. Before bed is always an option to help calm kids down and get them ready for bed. Take a book and read outside under a shade tree makes a fun change of pace. We love to read a book together that is also a movie and then turn Friday night into pizza and movie night when we get it finished. I have my older child read to my younger child and vice versa. Reading out loud can be fun.
As a librarian, I love helping kids find books that they enjoy. No child will like to read if what they are reading is not something that interests them. Now, I understand sometimes schools have required reading lists. This can be tough on some kids. That is where you may have to resort to some type of bribing your child. I had two friends say they have their children read in exchange for screen time and one friend even admitted to having a spouse pay their older children to get it done. That is real life. Sometimes we do not like what we have to read. I try to get that out of the way earlier in the summer and then help them find fun summer reads. I also encourage parents to not stress on reading levels when it is for fun. If they love ponies, let them read any pony book they find interesting. My son has me place holds on every animal book he can find at our local library. I have learned a lot about seals and sharks.
Other Fun Ideas
While I was talking with some other moms they brought up fun ideas.
- One made a summer reading bucket list of books their child wanted to read. They mark off each book as they read it. I love that idea. It will keep you focused and a fun way to see your progress.
- One mom talked about how their child set a goal for the number of books he wanted to read this summer. He wanted to read 50 books and he has already done it this summer. That is awesome!!!
- Another mom said she takes her boys to McKays to pick out books at the beginning of the summer. Then once the books are read, they can sell the books back and trade them for something fun like comic books or video games.
I love these ideas and they would be easy to do with the summer we have left. Just remember to make it fun!!!
I hope this will help some of you with ideas to prevent that summer slide with your little and big readers. Also remember the way to grow a reader is to be the example they see. I always let me kids see me read and we all enjoy visiting libraries together to find new books to read.