The best predictor of summer loss or summer gain is whether or not a child reads during the summer. And the best predictor of whether a child reads is whether or not he or she has access to books. – Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen, “Bridging the Summer Reading Gap”
Summer is a wonderful time to be at the pool! But it is also a great time to enjoy books of all shapes and sizes. For some parents, books are completely forgotten over the summer. This can happen for many reasons… maybe because your child is simply not a fan of reading or new material hasn’t been presented. No matter the age of your children, these five ideas can help you make a splash with summer reading and spur your family on to great success.
Summer Reading Ideas
1. Check out your local library and enroll in the summer reading program.
Libraries across the country—from the Los Angeles Public Library’s Summer Reading Club to the New York Public Library’s “Dig Into Reading” program—offer fun activities and great incentives to promote summer reading. The metropolitan library where I live has a robust summer reading program. Their plan includes prizes along the way as well as a fantastic sheet of coupons for use in local businesses. In their program, reading is tracked by time not by the number of books read, and this works wonderfully for grades 2nd through 6th when children are advancing to chapter books. Using your local public library’s summer reading program will help automate your kids’ reading plans—these great programs can make Mom or Dad’s job a little easier!
2. Set your own summer reading goals.
Maybe the goal is to read 10 books over the summer. Or the goal is to make it through a certain series. The Son of Angels series by Jerel Law is an excellent adventure series for ages 8-11—and it’s great for boys who are reluctant readers!) Once you and your child have agreed on the goal, then you can decide on the schedule or plan to accomplish that goal.
3. Design your own summer reading plan that organizes the goals.
Perhaps your library doesn’t have an awesome program or reading 30 minutes a day will not work for your family’s schedule or “non-schedule.” The point of designing a plan is to be as flexible as you need or want to be but still accomplish the goal. So if the goal is to read through a series, outline your plan as to how you intend to make that happen.
4. Set up a reward system to accompany your summer reading plan.
Rewarding children who take the time to read in the summer creates a fabulous integration of activity and rest. For example, sometimes I will say, “Ok, when we all finish our chores and reading for the day, we are headed to the pool!” Or we often pack our books along and read at the pool during rest periods. Rewards could be smaller for short-term goals and larger for the long-term goals.
5. Make a summer reading list.
Many teachers provide recommended book lists for students, but this could be a fun project for both parent and child. You could choose a certain number of books for the list and your child could choose a certain number of books for the list. Or you could make a list of 20 books and give your child the opportunity to choose the 10 books he or she would like to read.