7 Practical Tips to Get Your Kids Reading this Summer
I’m a fan of lazy summer days. Sleeping in. Popsicles. No homework. A few video games. But, I believe strongly that kids must keep one academic-y thing going all summer long. They must read. At least 20 minutes a day. I’m the Mayor of Bookopolis (self-appointed, not elected) so, of course, I believe that. But, there’s lots of research to back me up. Here’s my summer plea. Parents — you’ve got to get your kids reading. Especially those kids who don’t pick up a book of their own accord. It helps their brains stay engaged and avoid any summer slumping. But, more importantly to me, reading helps them be better people.
Reading increases empathy. It introduces kids to new places, new people, new points of view. It validates feelings and emotions. A good book can make you feel like you belong. Or, it can challenge you to stand up and be different. The power of a book truly is that strong.
Ok, you’re a believer now, right? You’ll get your kid reading this summer. The question then becomes: How do get them to read without physically forcing them (which is really hard to do when they are close to your size)?
Here are 7 tried and true tips that I’ve used successfully on my own 10- and 12-year-old boys as well as reluctant and voracious readers that I work with in after-school book clubs.
7 Tips to Get Your Kids Reading This Summer
1. Give Kids Choice
Most kids will read more if you truly let them choose what to read. Don’t stress out if it’s the 5th comic book they’ve read this week. Please stop making them read Little Women, unless they want to. All reading is good reading as it helps them build a habit of reading.
But, finding good books can be really hard for kids. According to a Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, 73% of kids say, “I would read more if I could find a good book.” Bookopolis is full of discovery tools and curated lists. Check out our Summer Reading Picks organized by grade and genre. Or, explore Bookopolis Reader Picks and our interactive BookQuest tool.
2. Make Reading Social
Reading seems like the ultimate individual activity, but making it more social can deepen comprehension and create a memorable shared experience among friends. Start a book club with neighborhood kids or your own family this summer. Or, let kids share book reviews and recommendations by being ‘friends’ on Bookopolis.
3. Go Beyond the Physical Book
While we usually think that reading means sitting down with a physical book, mix it up with some other options like e-readers, audio books, and magazines. Here’s a great list of audiobooks for kids.
4. Leave Books Everywhere
I hate a messy house, but I’ll leave piles of books around because my kids are more likely to pick up a book if they’re scattered around the living room. Research shows a correlation between the number of books in a kid’s home and their educational success. Make a weekly library run to keep your stockpiles fresh.
5. Model Reading
Kids follow what we do, not necessarily what we say. Pick up a book and read in front of your kids so they see you enjoying it. Tell them about your book and ask them about what they are reading. Check out these general book questions for inspiration.
6. Set a Reading Goal
We do what we measure, so set a reading goal for the summer — either minutes read or number of books work well. Using incentives — like FREE BOOKS- that are linked to reading are more effective for creating lifelong readers than a free ice cream cone or piece of pizza. Check out these fun challenges from Bookopolis to help you follow through on your reading goals. Earn free books that have generously been provided by amazing publishers like Little, Brown Books, Workman Publishing, Boyds Mill Press, and Albert Whitman & Company.
7. Meet Authors
Authors can be like rock stars to kids. Local bookstores and libraries often bring in popular (and lesser known) authors for free events. Seek these author talks out. The talks are filled with funny anecdotes about why and how they write and often their inspiring stories of rejection before they became the best-selling successes they are today. There’s usually time for Q&A which is exciting for kids to get to interact with authors. And, getting a book signed by the creator makes it even more special and worth reading.
Bonus Tip: Read Aloud to Kids of ALL Ages
Research shows that reading aloud to pre-readers as well as older kids (yes, even middle and high school kids) increases their comprehension and love of reading. It’s good family time and can help hook a reluctant reader on a good book.
What works in your family to get your kids reading? Send me a note @bookopolis or on Facebook.com/Bookopolis