What feelings come to mind when you hear the phrase “summer reading?” For some, the term may spark a sense of dread because it’s become associated with checklists, reading assignments, and quantifying the amount of reading one must do. For those of us who have had positive summer reading experiences, the phrase “summer reading” sparks a sense of excitement and joy.
For me, summer reading was a magical experience. “Summer reading” flashes me back to scenes from my childhood summers: reading in our hammock soaking up the dappled afternoon sunlight; tucked away in our treefort immersed in a great book; sprawled out on a blanket with a book at the beach; listening to stories by the campfire. Sure, my parents signed me up for reading challenges at the library and asked me to consider the recommended reading list my teacher sent home, but these were always secondary to authentic reading experiences. I must admit, my parents did not have to do much to inspire me to read over the summer. I loved it and sought it out at every turn- in the back seat of the car, under the cover of my desk at school, waiting for my sisters’ to finish up at swim practice. Everywhere I went, a book came too.
Perhaps your children love reading as much as I do, but in the off chance that your children are not already avid readers, let’s look at a few simple ways you can inspire them to read. As parents and educators, our goal should be to set the scene for joyful reading experiences. Setting the scene for a summer full of reading does not need to involve reading charts and reward systems, but it certainly can if that is something that motivates your children. Regardless of how you choose to set the scene, it is extremely important that your children read daily over the summer months. Reading gives the brain an opportunity for exercise and helps children grow in knowledge and critical thinking!
Summer often spurs new routines, so it is important to consider how you might intentionally incorporate reading into your summer days. Maybe you will schedule in quiet time reading after a morning spent in the sun. Perhaps snack time can become an opportunity to share a family read-aloud. If you plan to hit the road this summer, stock up on a few audio-books to take along on your adventure.
Here are a few ways you can prepare for a summer of joyful reading:
- Pay attention to authors your children especially love and start stocking up your home library with books by that author or by authors with a similar style of writing.
- Try to hook your children on a book series near the end of the school year, so they will be more likely to start the summer on a reading streak.
- Collect a stack of books that might interest your children and from time to time, advertise or preview the books by reading an exciting scene from the book, leaving off on a cliff hanger.
- Keep an eye out for garage sales and peruse your local bookshops- let your children select a few books that they are excited about reading over the summer. Heading out of town this summer? Make it a goal to pursue a bookstore while you are on vacation!
- Prepare a family read that everyone can get excited about. Think of it as a book club read and plan a few fun activities (recipes, games, music, etc.) that can be done together to bring the story to life.
- Head into the summer with a positive attitude about your own personal reading. Stock up your own pile of books and get ready to model your own summer reading!
Curious about how to set the scene for joyful reading? Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity!
- Encourage your children to read aloud to younger siblings or the family pet! This will help build fluency and confidence, especially in more reluctant readers.
- Keep boxes around the house (especially in the cozy corners) with a variety of books from the library, adding in new books from time to time.
- Plan a picnic and encourage everyone to bring a book to enjoy in the shade after lunch.
- Build a fort outside for readers to relax in (blankets and lawn chairs make for dreamy outdoor reading spaces).
- Serve up smoothies or lemonade before encouraging your children to find a peaceful spot to sip, read, and relax.
- Set up the tent for an evening of flashlight reading.
- Select a read-aloud to share around a bonfire.
However you choose to set the scene for summer reading, have fun with it. Let your children read books below their reading level. Encourage them to re-read their favorites. Incorporate read-alouds into your routines and read what they are reading so you can engage them in literary conversations. Read with your children to learn facts and new skills (think cooking, baking, arts & crafts).
We hope these ideas will inspire a joyful summer of reading!
Join us here monthly for our “Nurturing Lifelong Readers” series as we unpack strategies for nurturing these traits in our children so they become lifelong readers!