15 May
Posted in: reading
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Summer Reading with Children

Three boys reading in church sanctuary before services

The school year is winding down and papers are arriving home with ways to keep children reading over the summer months to avoid the summer slide. Public libraries run reading programs along with publishing companies and book stores. There are quite a few options, more than I remember as a child.

Reading is part of our family lifestyle. We have bookshelves, book baskets, book bins and use books for decorating. We’re known to ask our children to put the book down or please don’t take the book in the car. I’ve actually taken reading time away as punishment. They easily immerse themselves into whatever they’re currently reading, and sometimes I just need them to be present in their reality.

Two siblings reading on couches

Not every child has a passion for reading, though. For some, the act of reading is difficult. Books may not be readily available to others. Some children have yet to find that genre or author that speaks to them and opens up the floodgate to the joys of reading. Here are a few ideas to engage non-readers over the summer months:

  • Find what a child loves and then find books on it. Does your child only want to play video games? Find books on their favorite game, or gaming in general. My boys begged for every book on Minecraft they could get their hands on. They’ve read the set we have several times. It’s not traditional reading material in the sense of main characters with plots, but there is content for them to understand and absorb. Librarians are great resources. One of our sons is fascinated by disasters and weapons. He’s become a lover of non-fiction thanks to some recommendations from a librarian that helped push him past the Titanic and swords.
  • Let them read what they want, within reason. I don’t enjoy graphic novels, but one of our boys went through a phase where that’s all he wanted to read. As long as it’s age appropriate, I let them read it. For younger readers or those who enjoy picture books, I previously posted about some favorite classic children’s books and underrated children’s books.
  • Audiobooks can help reluctant readers work their way into a book. Audiobooks can be magical with different voices for each character and music to bolster the emotions of the book. I’ve had my children listen to books while following along in the printed version or we’ll listen to a book in the vehicle and read parts of it at home. Audiobooks and print books can work in tandem. A few of our favorite children/juvenile audio books are: “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda” and its sequels by Tom Angleberger, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, “How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous” by Georgia Bragg, the Fudge series by Judy Blume, Hank the Cowdog by John Erickson and the Dragon Slayers’ Academy by Kate McMullan.
  • Competition can motivate some children. Most reading programs work with incentives whether that be prizes or electronic badges earned. If you don’t want to sign up for an organized program, plan one yourself. If there’s a movie your child really wants to see at the theater, make that a prize for completing a specific amount of reading minutes. Eating at a restaurant is always a good incentive at our house.
  • If you know of a movie based upon a book, read the book and find the movie, then have a movie night at home as a reward. It’s interesting to compare books to movies and hear what my kids like or don’t like about changes made to a book to make it a movie. We have done in-house book clubs in the summer based on this idea.
  • My oldest son is a fast reader. He gets that from me. He’ll plow through book after book. During the summer months, I have him read a mix of genres instead of his normal fantasy/action mix. I don’t pick what he has to read within a genre that he chooses. I think I’ll try that this summer with our 10-year-old. He’s sure he won’t like anything I recommend until he reads it. He has yet to not like a book I’ve suggested once he’s finished it. One would think he would trust me by now. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, mystery, science fiction, poetry, biography, myths, fantasy, comic, military, sports, adventure, audiobook, and historical fiction.

We’ve always made reading a priority in our house. We read before bed at night and in the afternoons after lunch. The kids have their own routine of reading in the morning while breakfast is fixed. We are frequent visitors to our local library. Craig and I read in front of the kids and talk about books with them. Integrating books and reading into daily life is a big part of helping children view reading as enjoyable rather than a chore.


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