Summer Reading for Kids

How to encourage your kids to read this summer

It’s summer and the last thing your kids want is an assignment. You know they should do some reading over the break in order to help mitigate the “summer slide” that happens to most kids. But if you make reading a chore, you risk turning your kids off.

Schools have summer reading programs. Libraries have summer reading programs. Parent groups have recommendations and lists of books that appeal to parents. And there are goals and rewards and milestones. And all of this feels like work.

Ditch the program

One of the best ways to encourage your kids to read is for you to be a reader. Seriously. They learn by example. And younger children usually love being read to. But just seeing that reading is important to you helps make it a natural activity.

If you have more than one child, having them read to each other can also be fun, or have an older child read aloud to younger kids who can’t yet read themselves.

Don’t force or cajole or bribe your kids to read. Just make reading materials of all types readily available to them. This includes:

  • magazines
  • newspapers
  • graphic novels
  • audio books
  • blog posts
  • travel brochures
  • how-to-books
  • cookbooks
  • recipes
  • catalogs
  • word puzzles
  • encyclopedias
  • poetry
  • fiction
  • fantasy
  • hobby books (like coin collecting, gardening, insects, music, art, vintage record albums…)

Resist the temptation to consult an “approved” reading list this summer and let your child’s own interests and hobbies guide them (and you) to reading about what they’re interested in, regardless of the medium. Your local librarian will be super helpful in directing you to reading materials on every topic.

Reading and writing are connected

Encouraging writing helps boost your child’s reading skills. You can help your child make a journal, or buy a ready-made one that they pick out, if they seem interested. Have them make a list of things they see or do over the summer so they have a ready made essay for back-to-school. This could easily turn into a scrapbook project. Help them pick a pen pal to write letters to. Have them write down recipes they like, creating their own collection or “cookbook”. Any type of writing activity is valuable and will improve their reading ability.

If your child has reading difficulties

Children who struggle to read are not going to enjoy reading. For some kids, making lower level, easier reading materials available can help. But if you suspect that your child is having a more serious problem with reading, summer is a good time to look into it. If the problem is something physical or cognitive, the earlier you get it diagnosed, the better. If it’s just that your child may be slower to catch on and develop reading skills, taking the pressure off and making it as fun and stress-free as possible will help.

Bottom line: remove the “work” aspect from summer reading and make a variety of materials available to your kids. Encourage reading without pressure and have a great summer!

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