The summer is here and keeping your young readers engaged is a challenge. Here are ten tips to keep your kids reading during their time off.
- Set a goal.
My dad always told me that it’s important to set goals, write them down and stick to them. Set a realistic goal with your child on how many books they will read this summer. If you frame it as a “summer reading challenge” your children may find the motivation to achieve their goal. Check out these reading challenges on pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/reading-challenge/
- Make time.
Carve out a bit of time in each day to read quietly. After a full day of play, a little downtime will help your child re-focus. Consistency is key, so try to stick to the same time each day. Start with 20 minutes a day and see if you can stretch it out to 30 or 40 minutes, over the span of the summer. Like meditation, it’s hard at first but it becomes a necessary respite once you can embrace it.
- Set a good example.
Your children often imitate your behaviours. Set an example by picking up a book of your own. As a teacher, I often noticed that if I was reading a particular book in class, my students would be 10 times more likely to pick that same book up and read it on their own.
- Record your child’s progress.
Set up a chart to record all of the books that your child has read. Stickers are a super easy incentive. It seems like a silly step, but my students loved it and would often admire their accomplishments. If you have more than one child, there could be a bit of healthy competition.
- Books before movies.
There are a few classics being re-released as major motion pictures. Challenge your child to read the book and then watch the movie as the reward. Afterwards, you can discuss what they liked more about the book or vice versa. Comparing and contrasting the book and the movie will develop fundamental reading comprehension skills. A good one to start with is the BFG by Roald Dahl. Kipling’s The Jungle Book is another great one.
- Read aloud.
If your child is stuck, a great way to help them along is to read the beginning of the book aloud. This will get them hooked. It’s also a nice way to bond with your child. It also opens up channels for discussion. Ask your child if he or she empathizes with the main character. Is there something they would have done differently? This is a good jumping point for a great chat.
- Watch book trailers
There are many middle-grade and teen book trailers on youtube these days. Skim through a bunch and see if anything interests your child. It’s not school, so if your child wants to read Captain Underpants for fun, that’s ok. It’s still reading. However, watching the trailers may get your child to explore more titles and read more than just Diary Of A Wimpy Kid. (Although those books are awesome and hilarious!)
- Write to an author.
I love getting messages from kids about my novel The Dining and Social Club For Time travellers. I’m always happy to respond and help to encourage creative reading and writing. I’m sure other authors feel the same way.
- Start a book club.
Make it a social thing. Challenge a few of your child’s friends to read and discuss a book. Moderating the gathering will keep the kids on track. Check out these discussion questions from the New York Times.: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/12/163-questions-to-write-or-talk-about/?_r=0
I highly recommend reading Wonder by R.J Palacio. It is fantastic book to help nurture empathy, kindness and caring—and it is going to be a major motion picture soon.
- Remember that reading is a fun activity.
Developing a love of reading is more important than hitting goals and skimming through texts. It shouldn’t feel like homework or punishment. Check in with your little one and offer support and guidance when necessary. Good luck and happy reading!