Tips to Keep Kids Reading Through Summer

Sisters laughing, reading outside together in the summer.
Mieke Vanderborght

Help Them Find Their Reading Groove

We’re knee deep in summer and it’s hot! If you can’t escape the heat, why not try freshening things up in your imagination at least? Pour a cold drink, put an ice pack on your forehead, and crack open a book about exploring the arctic! The book may not actually move the mercury on your thermometer, but it sure can make you forget about the heat for a bit! If your kids need a little extra push to keep reading over the summer, read on for tips on how to encourage them.

Aim for The Just-Right Level

Summer reading isn’t about making big learning gains or reading the most complicated book ever – unless that’s what your kid is into, in which case, let ‘em at it! For most of us though, the goal for summer reading is to maintain competency and continue cultivating positive feelings around reading. Kids will likely read books that are a bit above their reading level when they’re reading for school. But over the summer  it’s okay if they choose books that are an easy read. A good rule of thumb is to have them read the first page of a book and raise a finger for every word they come across that they don’t know. If they’ve raised five fingers by the end of the page, the book may be too hard for them to read on their own. Librarians are perfect – and free! – resources for helping you choose a just-right book for your kid.

Find What Works for Your Kid

If you want to challenge them, a good option is to read difficult books together. You can read out loud to them, which is always a great bonding activity no matter what age your kid is. Or you can have them practice reading out loud to you. Another possibility for exploring challenging books is to listen to it as an audiobook. Audiobooks are also a great alternative to screen time for long car rides or hot, lazy afternoons at home.

Lastly, if you or your kid is determined to read a tough book, you can also try discussing the book with them ahead of time so they’re prepared for the major characters and plot points. But keep in mind that the summer is a time for kids to have a much needed break from high expectations and the intensity of the school year. The goal of summer reading ideally should prioritize fostering the joy of reading. Pushing too much on a book that’s too challenging could backfire!

Be Flexible with Type of Reading Material

There’s a certain magic about losing yourself in an amazing story. But non fiction is reading too. Maybe there’s a biography of a favorite athlete or other famous person. Or perhaps that informational booklet that teaches all about dinosaurs is what will draw your kid in. In other words, whatever is that kids are interested in reading is absolutely the best choice for them, whether it’s great literature or not.

Utilize More Than Just Books

And don’t forget that there’s all sorts of reading material other than books too! Most kids love getting mail, so consider a monthly kids magazine. Reluctant readers may appreciate comics or graphic novels. There are so many ways kids can engage with words on a page. And all of it is great for keeping their reading muscles in shape. 

For help and guidance there’s nothing better than taking advantage of the expertise of the librarian at your local library. They’ll be able to suggest reading material to match your kid’s interests, reading level, and tolerance for books.

Make it Routine

There are probably many things you do as a family that are just built into your routine. These things happen easily and naturally because you all know what’s expected. You can make reading an activity that also just comes naturally by making it a routine. Maybe it’s part of a bed time routine in which kids read for 10 minutes on their own before turning off the light. Perhaps it’s your family’s way to relax and process the day as soon as your kid comes home from summer camp. Or maybe it’s a weekly thing: On a relaxed Saturday morning everyone takes out something to read for 20 minutes. Whatever works for your family, if you make it routine and expected then everyone gets into the practice and knows what’s coming.

Be a Role Model

Don’t forget to get in on that reading routine too! Kids take their cues from what they see others around them doing. Let them catch you reading and make it clear how important reading is for you too! Talk to them about your favorite books, let them know what you’re reading or how you choose what to read next.

Make Reading a Group Activity

Sure, reading a book is usually a solo experience. But that doesn’t mean reading has to be lonely. There are lots of ways to make reading sociable. One idea is to look into your library’s summer reading program. These programs are often fun ways to join a group of readers, track your kid’s reading, and also get rewards for their progress. Or you could help your kid start a book club with some friends. They can all read the same book and then you can have a book-themed party when they finish. Finally, you can all get together to read silently together at the same time. You’ll each be in your own world with your book, but you’ll be in each other’s company. And you can always talk about what you read when you’re done!

Combine It with a Fun Activity

Help your kids find a book related to your summer plans. For example, they can read a book about your vacation destination like a history book to learn more about the place, a biography of someone famous from that location, or a story set in the same or a similar setting. Or maybe you’ll be taking a day trip to the zoo. Find books that teach about the animals you’ll see or stories that feature zoos.

Read with Moxie

Moxie can help kids keep up their reading over the summer. For example, including Moxie can turn reading time into a shared experience. Kids can read out loud to Moxie and then have a conversation about what they read. For extra practice with stories, Moxie can also tell kids short stories and then engage them in a conversation about the characters and plot turns.

Or Moxie’s “This day in history” may spark a kid’s interest. If so, help them find a book that can teach them more about it. Then they can come back to Moxie to talk about what they learned!

Keep it Fun and Keep it Positive

Reading opens minds and takes kids to amazing places. The goal is to help kids see how fun and enjoyable it is to read. So let your kid take the lead in choosing what they want to read. Involving Moxie can also amp up the fun factor. Or go all out and get a book of jokes to make reading the roll-on-the-floor laughing kind of fun!

And don’t forget to dish out lots of encouragement. Recognize any progress you see. Did they read on their own for five minutes longer than they ever have before? Did they show some excitement in choosing a book? Or did they take a book out on their own to start reading? Let them know you see them! 

Read Throughout the Summer – and Beyond!

Reading throughout the summer is important to ensure that kids don’t slide back too far in their reading skills. But even more than that, without the pressure of the school year, summer is such a great time to let kids really fall in love with reading. You can help guide them there by setting up reading-friendly circumstances and finding that just-right hook that will inspire your kid to want to read.

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