Top 5 Ways to Get Kids Reading Over the Summer

readingSummer reading is a welcome respite in the middle of hot, chaotic days. It’s the perfect time to foster an appreciation of books and love of reading while helping to keep kids’ reading skills from sliding. And it’s cheap family entertainment. In my house, I find it’s easiest to establish a summer reading routine. Here are five ways to help get your kids reading over the summer!

Read. Read. Read.

We can’t get any better at reading – and experience the enjoyment of it – unless we read. A lot. Every day.

I draw a comparison between reading and practicing any other set of skills, such as an instrument or a sport. Since my kids are already involved in these kinds of activities, they usually admit that I’m probably-maybe-we-don’t-want-to-admit-it right. Set aside time each day to read for enjoyment. It can be the same time every afternoon, or maybe during the evening before bed, and it doesn’t need to be an incredibly long period of time – twenty minutes is enough. When it’s time to read, have everyone settle in and set a timer; pretty soon, your kids will be asking for more time!

You Read When They Read

I believe it’s absolutely necessary that during that block of time, you are also reading. For pleasure. I know the kitchen sink may be full of dishes, but you need this time as much as your kids do…and modeling reading for pleasure says far more than your words.

Provide Choices

The point of having a separate reading time is for kids to enjoy it. They should to pick out stories and books that interest them. Libraries and book stores offer many choices, and kids may need help choosing books that are appropriate for their reading levels. Some children pick books that are too easy, and some choose books that are too difficult to read. I’ve taught my kids the “Five Finger Method” for choosing the right book for them. They pick a book, open to a page and start reading. Then I tell them to hold up a finger each time they come to a word they don’t know. At the end of the page, if your child or student has zero or one finger up, the book is too easy. Five fingers up mean the book is too hard. Two or three fingers up mean it’s just right!


Use this time to connect with your kids. After reading your own book or magazine for a chunk of the reading time, take some time to “share” reading with your kids. For example, with my seven-year-old, I can help him make connections between his reading material and the world around him. I can also ask him meaningful questions and discuss the choices the main characters are making. This conversation leads to a deeper connection that we wouldn’t otherwise make.

Challenge, Reward and Celebrate!

A summer reading routine doesn’t have to cost anything; in fact, your whole family will probably benefit through reading programs. Search the Internet for Summer Reading Rewards Programs – there are at least a dozen out there affiliated with local libraries, book stores and restaurants. Download and print the appropriate forms, and hang the reading forms or calendars where your kids can access them.

If you want to create your own challenge and rewards, use this reproducible Bookmark and Reading Log(PDF) and this Summer Reading Calendar (PDF). Make a goal for each day, week and/or month – such as reading minutes or total number of books to read – and decide what the rewards will be when your kids meet the goal. If you want kids to put in a little more effort into Summer Reading, here is a Book Box activity, along with a printable Book Report form for kids to use.

However you decide to run it, a summer reading routine offers your family the chance to connect while celebrating the importance of reading. — Guest Blogger Kelly Wilson writes for Teaching Resource Center in a regular column called “Kelly’s Corner.” Teaching Resource Center offers classroom teaching tools and resources designed to help K-3 students who are learning to read.

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