Reading during the summer can be a bit of a battle. My kids want to chill out with devices or go swimming, and, while they like to read, it’s just not on the top of their to-do list now that school has dismissed for the summer.
But reading during the summer is integral for kids to continue in their path to achievement. The ‘summer slide’ is well documented. According to Reading is Fundamental, once a child falls behind in reading they will likely never catch up. Children in low-income families are at a higher risk, as they lack the access to libraries and other resources that provide enrichment materials and books. Reading is Fundamental documents that “more than 80 percent of children from economically disadvantaged communities can lose one to three months reading skills over the summer.”
A parent’s best hope in combating summer slacking is to find a way to get books in the hands of their children…and to help them enjoy opening the pages of those books. Here are ways to help instill a love of literacy in your kids this summer.
- Go book hunting.
Local thrift stores offer low cost books for all kids. My favorite store sells paperback kids’ books for a quarter. After we read them, we try to donate them back. Let kids choose which books they want to read. Choice gives them the power in their reading and, according to the New York Post, also helps you discover “your child’s reading taste.” Trying to force a child to read a book that a parent wants them to read is a silly battle. If you want reading to be fun, let the child choose.
- Join a reading club.
Many libraries or schools offer a summer reading club that provides rewards when kids read a certain number of books. These types of program helps kids set and reach goals and feel rewarded at the same time. Our local library offered free kids’ meals and summer toys when the book goals were reached. Some restaurants also provide reading programs and kids may earn a free kids’ meal after hitting their reading goals!
How can parents expect kids to want to read if we—as parents—never crack open a book? Set the example to your children and read! When our children see us reading for fun, they understand that reading is enjoyable and not just another assignment.
- Don’t clock the time.
During the summer, don’t set a 15-minute timer for kids during reading time. Let them read for fun and enjoy their book without looking at a clock or aiming for a time goal. However, if kids start to experience eye fatigue or vision issues from reading too long, make them take a break. If you notice your child putting the book too close to their eyes, you might want to have their eyes checked; they could be near-sighted (also known as myopia) and may need glasses.
- Read the book, and then watch the movie.
If a book your child reads also offers a cinematic interpretation, offer to rent/stream it so your child can compare the book to the movie. Seeing the stories onscreen also provides an additional element for children to visualize the book and the story. Usually, though, the book is better!
- Be positive.
Don’t turn reading into a battle. If parents are constantly at a child’s throat to read a book, they may turn a positive experience into a black hole of negativity. Use positive rewards to keep kids on a reading track. Allow them to earn screen time for every minute they read or set attainable goals. Just don’t make the book out to be a villain!
This summer, keep kids on a track to literacy by encouraging a love of reading and providing opportunities to explore new books and stories. Summer can boost a child’s reading level or cause them to fall back in literacy. There are many resources to help get books in a child’s hands, and parents who need help finding books can even contact their local school (or school district) to find ways to make sure their child has age-appropriate books needed for summer enrichment.
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. Follow her @AmyKWilliams1.