Don’t underestimate the importance of summer reading.
As literacy expert Julie M. Wood points out, “The few months of loss in reading skills compounds over the years; by the time children reach middle school, those who haven’t read during the summers may have lost as much as two years worth of achievement.”
But how exactly can you prevent the “summer slide“? Here are six tips to get your children reading more all summer long.
1. Let Your Kids Pick
It can be difficult to let your child make her own book choices when you’re just dying for her to love the “Anne of Green Gables” series as much as you did. Or you want her to conquer the best, most-challenging reading list for her age. But if she prefers that popular new book about tween dragons, let her read it. Studies have shown kids are more likely to finish a book if they picked it out. Summer’s the time for fun after all, however your child defines it.
2. Create a Reading Spot
Help your kids make a special place for reading. It could be a closet filled with pillows and a flashlight, a corner of your house with a special chair, the perfect branch in a tree, or any place that catches your child’s fancy. Just like letting your children guide their book choices, make sure they are the drivers of where they feel most comfortable reading. That way they’ll be more likely to cuddle up with a book in their special spot.
3. Read With Your Kids
Not only should parents, grandparents and other caregivers read frequently to children, they should be making sure reading time is interactive. For example, ask your kids questions about what they think will happen next in a book’s plot or how they would have acted if they were in a character’s shoes.
4. Take Books Wherever You Go
Headed somewhere? Make sure your kids have reading material for your destination, whether it’s the beach, the park, or waiting for something like a game or movie to start. If you don’t want to lug a bunch of books around, an e-reader such as a Kindle makes for a portable alternative. And if you find your child is big into electronics, you may find he’s more excited to read from an e-reader or tablet than a regular old book anyway.
5. Find a Summer Reading Program
Chances are highly likely that your local library will have a kids summer reading challenge with prizes awarded for reading a certain number of books. You could also sweeten the pot by adding your own incentive for your kids to meet a summer reading goal. Perhaps a chance to pick out even more books of their choice.
6. Set a Specific Time to Read
With camps, sports and other activities, reading can get lost in the hustle and bustle of summer. Make sure you block out reading time on the calendar. Plus you’ll appreciate that time spent not shuttling kids here and there.