Looking for ways to keep your kids reading throughout the summer? Check out these 10 simple ways to have engaged summer readers.
Don’t try to do all of them all of the time! You will get burnt out! But maybe pick one or two that you think might resonate with your children and give it a try this summer. They might surprise you!
Start a reading rewards program.
Let’s be real . . . one of the best ways to motivate kids to read over the summer is to give them a reward to work towards. There are a few ways to get your child into a reading rewards program.
First, check your school. Often, schools will send student home with grade level summer reading lists and offer them an incentive to read from the list. Make this incentive a big deal in your house and help your child reach the reading goal.
Second, check your local library. Libraries across the country are setting up rewards programs over the summer to keep kids reading. I enrolled in a program every year as a kid, and I LOVED getting to go to the library to pick out my prize every time I reached a new level. With each new level, kids got a bigger ticket item as a reward. Check out your library and see what programs they have for your kids over the summer.
Finally, start your own rewards system. Sometimes, its just easier to do your own rewards because you know what incentives are going to work best for your kids and that’s perfect! I can help with that. Get the My Summer Reading Rewards packet for book tracker charts, reward coupons, certificates, and more!
Get into a book as a family.
Growing up, we were always into a book as a family. As a result, I read so much great literature that I may have never picked out on my own because my family was into it.
Getting into a book as a family can look different for everyone. One option is to read a book aloud as a family. Another option would be for everyone to read a copy of the book on their own and then discuss it later. My favorite option is audiobooks in the car. During long road trips or short jaunts to the grocery store, we always had a book on CD going! The whole family would get into it (especially my mom!) and you couldn’t help but get excited about the book as a kid.
Get into a book series.
If you choose to read a book as a family, try getting into a series! An exciting book series will keep your kids coming back for more and the family fun will continue!
Looking for book series ideas? Check out my Top 10 Book Series for Families. This list includes many of my family’s personal favorites from growing up.
Pro Tip: Use the book series as the bases for the activities listed below such as field trips, cooking, movie night, and more! Keep reading and find out!
Do book related activities.
Use your child’s current reading interests to fuel ideas for summer activities. Is your child reading a story about a dolphin? Plan a trip to the zoo to watch the dolphin show. Is your child reading about plants that grow in the woods? Plan a trip to the local park or nature preserve for an afternoon of hiking and exploration. Is your child reading about life on the prairie? Cook dinner over the firepit out back and pretend it’s the prairie days!
When I was a child, we listened to a book series as a family called The 68 Rooms, a story based on the Thorne Room exhibit in Chicago. In real life, the Thorne Rooms are miniature rooms that show the inside of houses in different countries during different time periods. In the books, the two main characters find a way to shrink, fit inside the rooms, and visit the countries and time periods. Years later, we were able to take an exciting trip to Chicago to visit these beautiful Thorne Rooms!
Do you need to plan a whole vacation around a book? No! But if we use this book series as an example, you could have helped your child do research on the time periods talked about or find books about the Thorne Rooms or found a way for your child to create their own Thorne rooms. All of these activities would help your child connect to the story and relate to the characters.
Eat food based on books.
Make a book exciting by creating a whole experience! Grab a cookbook based on the time period or theme of some of your favorite books and do a little cooking with your kiddos! It is not only a fun, bonding activity, but it also gives your child background knowledge and helps them connect with the characters of the book.
For an example, when I was a kid, my family and I read Little House on the Prairie. When we finished, my mom found a recipe for the maple muffins that Laura Ingalls describes in the book. Together, we made the delicious muffins (I still love the recipe to this day!), and in that moment, I felt connected to Laura Ingalls in a way that I never had before.
Don’t have time to bake? Or your kiddos are too little? Throw together a simple charcuterie spread based on a book such as The Hungry Caterpillar. It’s the simple moments like these that make the best memories.
Build up to a movie day.
If you decide to read or listen to a book as a family, pick a book that is also a movie! Plan to have a big movie night production once you all finish the book!
My family did this with the Narnia series. As we completed the audiobooks as a family, we would look forward to the big movie night at the end. We would gather with all of our movie night goodies and have a blast comparing the movie to the book. Of course, we would then have to vote which was better. . . but we all know the book is always better 😉
Designated reading time.
I don’t believe that reading should be a forced chore over the summer because that could be a turn off from books altogether. However, I do believe setting aside time in your day to devote time to reading. This time is simply a moment when the electronics are put away and the books are pulled out for exploration. Your child may choose to read a novel, skim the pictures of a picture book, or look at multiple books at one time. All of these activities are valuable.
One way to make a designated reading time successful is by modeling reading yourself. If you are up and busy while forcing the children to sit and read, it may begin to feel more like a chore rather than something fun. Every once in a while, take a moment to sit with your kiddos and read your own book. When kids see that adults value reading, they just might adopt that attitude for themselves.
Remember, a designate reading time does not need to happen daily. Summer can be busy with friends, vacations, sports, and more. Even just shooting for a time or two a week to spend time reading can go a long way with your kids.
Read in a new location.
Want to keep a designated reading time fresh, exciting, and engaging? Maybe change up the reading location! Trying reading outside, at the library, in a coffee shop, in the woods, at the park, or any place that would seem like a cool reading location.
Trips to the library.
If you don’t have a library card already, get one! Not convinced? Check out a few of the reasons why I recommend getting a library card.
During the summer, plan to take trips to the library. Growing up, my family made it a part of our Saturday morning routine. The library allowed us to find books within our interests as well as keep our reading options fresh and interesting. As a result, we often spent our Saturday afternoons pouring over our new books.
Save money on buying new books all summer and save your child the boredom of reading the same books repeatedly by bringing them to the library for THOUSANDS of reading options.
Want some good book lists to give your library time some direction? Check out my multiple book lists or sign up to get my read-aloud calendar complete with 365 picture book ideas.
Look for Little Libraries around town.
Speaking of getting new books, have you seen those little library boxes around your town? I have! It is a cool way to share your old books with others and get new books for yourself! Explore the little libraries around town for an exciting book hunt. Place your old book in the little library cabinet and take home a new book.
Don’t try to do all of these activities everyday all summer. As a parent, you will become frustrated and burnt out. Pick one or two that might work for your lifestyle and children. If it doesn’t work after a while? Pick another!
Remember that reading over the summer should be FUN! Books can be used as a spring board for activities that bring your family together. Don’t make reading a chore, make it an exciting adventure!
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