Books are everywhere in our houses, but sometimes it seems they’re not being read. It’s summer, and kids have so many other things they’d rather do. But we’ve consulted the experts, and these are our top tips to encourage summer reading.
1. Foster an early love of reading. Reading can be a family activity, and instilling this value of reading at a young age sends a powerful message that can be for kids. You should model reading, make reading pleasurable, read aloud to your kid in situations that are warm and create positive associations. Let your kids know your family is one that loves to learn about the world, and reading is a big part of that.
2. Self-concept is essential–your kids have to see themselves as readers. They can understand that reading is a good thing to do and that it makes them smarter, and most kids do know that, but they still don’t read. It’s the same as someone who knows broccoli is really healthy, but doesn’t eat it. Talking about kids’ reading attitudes is important, however. If you read anything–a book, a newspaper, a magazine, a comic, and online article–you are a reader. That’s all it takes.
3. Start young readers with graphic novels. Graphic novels have become very popular in the last decade, and that makes them perfect to start. They can be a kind of gateway to other books, and a great tool to reach kids who think that reading is not worth their time. Getting to other reading will come in time, but it’s not a problem if graphic novels remain the mainstay of your child’s reading routine.
4. It’s okay to use incentives to encourage kids to read. Maybe this isn’t the best strategy to try first, but that doesn’t mean it has to be completely off the table. Incentives have the potential to change a child’s mind about reading not being fun.
5. Replace naps with quiet time. For young readers at the age of giving up their nap, it’s very smart to institute quiet time. You can say that they don’t have to sleep, but they must have a half-hour of quiet time. For a child who is too young to read on their own, this can be a time for either picture books or reading with a parent or older sibling. In many families, quiet time before bed can easily go up through middle school. Let older kids stay up a half hour later if they want to read, but only books are allowed during this time.
6. Put books everywhere. Look at environments that have a lack of entertainment and put books there. Put books in the car, in the bathroom, and at grandma’s house. Bring them to waiting rooms, restaurants, and on errands. It’s amazing how much kids will read when there are books in places where they have nothing else to do. In order to encourage summer reading, you can also restrict kids’ access to screen time in favor of books sometimes.
7. Build a summer schedule around reading. At the beginning of the summer, let kids know that weekdays are not going to be an absolute free-for-all. Think about the categories of things you’d like to happen–contributing to the house through chores, having time outdoors, keeping a reading log, etc. In the middle of the afternoon when it’s hot, if you’re not at the pool, you can do some sort of quiet, indoor activity — and that can very easily be reading. This is a way of doing a soft restriction of children’s activity in order to encourage summer reading.
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