How To Keep Kids Reading During the Summer

reading for fun graphicThe school year ends Friday here in Denver. For many others, you are already on summer vacation. At first, it’s all fun and games, as it should be, but eventually, you should probably make sure that your children don’t lose everything they just learned. After all, they don’t start over next year.

One of the most common things educators have noted is something called Summer Reading Loss. The concept is that many kids stop reading over the summer. The brain works just like any other body organ, it works best when frequently used. So, while kids don’t read for three months, they start back-sliding in their reading ability and speed. Obviously, they don’t go all the way back (most times) to where they were, but a little reading during the summer not only avoids losing skill, but keeps improving it.

Make Summer Reading Fun

It’s summer vacation. Tyrannical, “Go read right now, young man,” is way uncool during vacation. However, some gentle nudging and expectation setting is legit. “You can read for 20 minutes, or you can start cleaning your room,” works for me 🙂

To make reading over the summer fun, the most important thing is to have a variety of reading material available. Re-reading something from your bookshelf when you aren’t in the mood to read in the first place is a recipe for whining. However, a pile of new books fresh from the library offers the possibility of new adventures, new knowledge, or just new characters.

Either way, make frequent trips to the library to pick out new books. Don’t worry about the books that don’t get read, and make sure your kids feel free to return or give up on any books that aren’t fun.

Don’t get bogged down in trying to get them to read non-fiction, or “good literature.” Remember, it is summer. The point is to keep the reading muscles working, not necessarily to learn from the reading. In other words, silly stories, yet another book in a fictional series that is “too young,” or just about any other book is fine. As long as they are reading, their reading skill will be improving. Worry about what the content is another day.

Summer Reading Programs

Another way to bump up the fun and interest in summer reading is with summer reading programs. The Denver Public Library, for example, offers a Summer of Reading program that offers rewards for reading. Read six books, or for 3 hours, and you get a library backpack. Another six books or three hours gets you a free ticket to Elitch Gardens amusement park. Keep going and you can get a free book and be entered for a prize drawing.

On their own, none of these perks will push most kids to read, but as a set collection of on going rewards, they can be a fun way to keep kids interested and track their progress.

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