Summer is upon us, which means more free time for our kids. How can we encourage them to keep reading over the summer and promote a love of reading?
“Parents offer their children a gift when they encourage reading throughout the summer,” says reading specialist Lani Angell-Comp, MA, of Learning Strategies in Scottsdale. “We know reading gains children have made through the school year can be lost over the summer if children fail to practice the skills.”
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of summer reading is that it allows children to peruse and pursue topics that interest them.
Angell-Comp offers the following tips to encourage reading this summer:
- Set aside a consistent time of day for reading — morning or afternoon, before lunch, etc. Get into a routine, so reading becomes just another part of the day.
- Depending on the age of the child, just 15 to 30 minutes a day is beneficial.
- Children should read out loud four or more times a week, depending on the age and ability of the child.
- Model reading for your children by reading at the same time, picking up different items and discussing what you are reading or talking about what you read for work.
- Read the same book your child is reading so you can have a conversation about the story. Ask probing questions.
- Try reading out loud with your child to work on expression, speed and pronunciation.
- Continue reading to your children as long as possible, because you can read challenging material with higher-level vocabulary. This is an opportunity for conversations about different topics.
- Leave reading material around your home, to make it easily accessible.
- Regularly go to the library or bookstore to replenish the supply of books.
- Participate in a reward program through your library or school to offer an incentive for summer reading.
- Start a parent/child book group.
- Set aside specific time to work with your children on reading, but make sure other times are purely for reading enjoyment.
- Demonstrate all the doors that can be opened by reading—adventure, mystery, science, history, poetry, etc.
Predictors of reading success
The survey found that 86 percent of parents think reading books for fun is extremely or very important for their child, but only 46 percent of kids say the same. Seventy-five percent of parents say, “I wish my child would read more for fun” and 71 percent wish their child “would do more things that did not involve screen time.”
According to Scholastic, the most powerful predictors of a frequent reader (a child who reads books for fun, five to seven days a week) are:
- Parents who are frequent readers
- The child’s level of reading enjoyment
- The child’s belief that reading for fun is important
- Being read aloud to five to seven days a week before kindergarten
- Being read aloud to and spending less screen time (kids ages 12 to 17)
- Having time for independent reading
- Having 150 or more print books in the home
And don’t forget the power of choice: 91 percent of surveyed kids ages 6 to 17 say their favorite books are the ones they pick out themselves and 70 percent say they want books that make them laugh.
This story first ran on May 20, 2015. It has been updated.