6 Tricks to Keep Your Kids Reading This Summer

6 Tricks to Keep Your Kids Reading This Summer

Help your reluctant reader learn to love books over summer vacation.

By Leah Maxwell

If your idea of a perfect vacation is sitting on a beach with a book, it can be hard to understand why your kids might say the last thing they want to do over the summer is read. And while it’s important to let them run and play and enjoy a level of crazy-eyed, barefooted freedom the school year doesn’t allow, you’re not wrong to want them to keep up their hard-won reading skills, if not also develop a love for books that will serve them well throughout their lives. Here are 6 easy techniques to help you make reading part of your family’s summer vacation:

1. Set a goal. For kids motivated by charts and rewards, setting a reading goal can make a world of difference. Check with your local library about summer reading programs for kids, or work with your child to come up with a custom reading challenge of your own. Sticker charts are great, and so are prizes for kids who meet their goals by the end of the summer.

2. Put them in charge. With kids, sometimes a little choice goes a long way, and it’s no different with reading. Give your reluctant readers control over picking their own library books, and remember that even comic books are better than not reading at all.

3. Read together. We’re told a lot about the positive effects of reading to young children, but even older kids can benefit from sharing a book with a parent . Reading with your kids can take many different forms: reading to them like you did when they were babies; reading out loud together, maybe alternating pages or chapters; or even reading the same book at the same time -- your own little two-person book club -- so you can talk about it in the car or over breakfast. Even reading separate books side-by-side in the same room can help your kids stop thinking of reading as homework or a chore and instead see it as enjoyable family time.

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4. Make it fun. Built an outdoor fort to read in. Turn regular library visits into outings that involve stopping for frozen yogurt beforehand and playing in the park afterward. Ask friends and family members for book recommendations so you don’t have to suffer through a string of duds. Turn your favorite stories into plays or puppet shows or short films. Start a book club with other kids. Read a book and then have a special movie night to watch the screen adaptation. Show your kids that reading is so much more than words on a page.


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5. Make it mandatory. If you can’t seem to get your kid excited about reading, you might have to play hardball and just make it a daily task. Turn it into a prerequisite for screen time and see what happens; with any luck, your kid will sit down for his 20 minutes of mandatory book time and get so engrossed you’ll have to pry the book out of his hands. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started.

6. Uncover the problem. If your kids say they hate reading, make sure you’ve figured out why that is. Is it because they struggle with it? Is it because they’d rather be playing video games? Is it because the types of books they have access to aren’t the types of books they prefer to read? Listening to what your kids have to say will be the best guide for how to start turning things around. Teaching them to love -- or at least like! -- reading is one of the greatest things you can do for them.

How do you keep your kids reading over the summer?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/przemekklos

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