Summer is finally here and it’s time to open a book and enjoy the sunshine! While your child(ren) may have a school-required reading list, it’s also important to encourage them to read what they want. The National Summer Learning Association reports that kids not engaging in educational activities during the summer can lose important gains they made during the year. This is even more true of low-income students, who may not have access to books at home or the ability to visit the library. So how can you help your kids keep learning during the summer?


Let them choose their books. Research shows that kids are far more likely to enjoy reading and do it more often if they get to choose the books they read. Makes sense, right? We all enjoy doing something more if we get to call the shots. CLiF’s Duncan McDougall shares his take on letting kids choose in VTDigger. Yes, some books may be required, but try to incorporate free-choice books, too. And here are a few tips for tackling those summer reading lists.


Make reading a fun challenge. A lot of libraries have special incentives to encourage summer reading. This summer reading bingo board is a fun way to challenge yourself and your young readers. You might choose to reward bingo “winners” with a special treat (hello, ice cream truck!). CLiF also has a few suggestions for fun summer reading challenges on our website. Any programs that implement these programs and let us know about it are eligible to win $50 in new books!


Visit the library as often as possible. We know busy schedules and lack of/limited transportation, especially in rural areas, can be a challenge, but public libraries are the best resource for free, high-quality books right in your community. Most libraries have fun programming too, which can be a great free alternative to expensive camps or learning programs. The Collaborative Summer Library Program’s Summer Reading theme is “A Universe of Stories” (to commemorate the 50th anniversary of landing on the moon), so libraries all over the country will be celebrating stories and space in creative ways.


Bring books with you wherever you go. If possible, bring books with you when you’re lounging by the pool, waiting for appointments, or on vacation. Having reading materials on-hand encourages kids to read for fun and keeps their brains active while they’re enjoying summer break.


Be a reading role model. If your kids see you taking the time to enjoy a good book, they’re more likely to want to do the same. Set aside time to read and set a good example.


Read Together. Whether it’s read-alouds or, for older/more advanced readers, just taking time in the day to sit and read books alongside each other, reading can be a fun shared experience. Here are some great creative ways to enjoy books together over the summer, from book picnics to scavenger hunts!


Going on a roadtrip? Don’t forget audio books! Audio books are accessible for everyone, a fun way to pass the time on long drives or plane rides, and your local library probably has lots of options to choose from.


Happy reading!

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