Summer provides children (and teachers) with a welcome break from the routines and responsibilities of being in school. It is important, however, that we don’t entirely forget about school during this time.
During the summer, kids can lose some of the knowledge and skills they learned during the past school year. This means that they might begin the next year already behind. When it comes to reading, research shows that students who don’t read regularly during their summer break can actually lose some core reading skills.
This summer, make the most out of the break by not only relaxing and having fun with the children in your life, but also by keeping their minds active through reading. We know, easier said than done, but you’re not alone. Here are some ideas on how to get kids reading this summer:
Choose a Variety of Good Books for Your Summer Reading Lists
Obviously, you don’t want to choose bad or boring books! But you want to make sure that you pick books that you will also enjoy. If your child sees that you are enjoying reading too, they will be encouraged to read themselves. There are some really smart and funny children’s books out there—books about dragons’ food preferences, books about a fly going through the stages of grief, and even books about being in books. Find the ones that work for you and share them with your child. Try to have books in a variety of styles, topics, and tone. That way your child can begin to explore what they like, while being exposed to different reading experiences.
If you’re looking for some suggestions, here’s a post on great books for kids.
Let Kids Choose Books Too
An important, simple thing you can do to encourage kids to read is let them choose the books they’ll be reading. There are many benefits to taking this simple step. By letting them choose their own books you are empowering them by letting them take risks and showing that you trust them. This will encourage them to read more since reading is their choice. It is not an assignment or a chore.
So, plan a trip to a library or bookstore and let them pick the books they want to read. This will help make sure they read books they enjoy and lets them know that reading is not just something they do for school. Reading is a fun pastime that allows them to explore topics and worlds they enjoy.
Make Books Readily Available
Make sure to have books easily available. Don’t keep books in a tall, dusty shelf or scattered on a table or nightstand. Display them in an open and inviting way. If the books are ready and waiting within reach, your child is more likely to pick one up. If you’re looking for bookcases and book displays that will invite your child to pick up a book, take a look at our selection. Regardless of how you choose to present and organize books, the important thing to keep in mind is that they must be your child must easily be able to see and take them.
Discuss Books and Ask Questions
Discussing and deconstructing the material you are reading is a crucial step in teaching the creative thinking process. Ask questions, think about “what ifs” and “why that.” Talk about the characters and the plot. Research the topic and the author. Talk about the author and his or her writing process and choices. You can use reading to explore writing and rhetoric in a fun and engaging way.
And keep in mind that taking the time to talk about the readings and what they mean doesn’t mean you’re starting your own summer school program. In fact, take the opportunity to highlight the fun of reading outside the school environment. Since reading is by no means just an indoor activity, why not take things outside? Have a picnic and spend some time reading or set a (due) date at your favorite ice cream parlor to discuss what you’ve learned in your reading.
There is more to reading than just following words on a page. You can do more than just discussing a book. You can act out scenes. You can rewrite scenes. You can paint and use other art supplies to represent a character or scene. Try activities that ask your child to think or act like a character. Put on a puppet show using one of our puppet theaters to make it look official. The options are endless. You can look up some suggestions or make up your own!
By getting creative with how you respond to a written work, you demonstrate to your child that reading is not a passive endeavor. Find what things spark the most interest and engagement in your child.