Avoid the dreaded “summer slide” — a decline in reading ability and other academic skills — by encouraging your student to read this summer in fun and unexpected ways. While quiet time spent reading on the couch is fantastic, the following tips offer some easy and engaging alternatives for readers of all ages—even reluctant ones. Let’s get creative. Reading fun awaits!
Make Real Life Connections.
Tie reading into already planned summer activities. Have your child research native plants observed on a nature hike or a favorite animal in conjunction with a visit to the local zoo. If headed on vacation, have the kids read up on the destination ahead of time in order to participate in the itinerary and packing list. If they’ve seen something interesting on the news or been cheering on a favorite sports team, encourage them to dig deeper and find out more by completing an online search.
Host a Movie Night.
While summer nights are often a little slower (and later), consider a family read-aloud before bedtime with the plan of watching the film adaptation once you’ve completed the book. Get cozy on the couch with some popcorn or thematic treats and be prepared to be entertained while also spotting similarities and differences between the book and movie. The following titles offer PG-rated movie versions for a range of ages: The One and Only Ivan, The Magician’s Elephant, Wonder, Holes, A Wrinkle in Time, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and the many adaptations of Roald Dahl’s collection.
Borrow a Book.
The local library is a perfect spot to cool off indoors at no cost. Most public libraries participate in a collaborative, nationwide summer program for kids that offers free events (like storytime and crafts or guest entertainers), reading logs, and prizes. The inspiration and incentives may lead to checking out a few books.
Ever spotted a Little Free Library while out and about? It’s a small wooden box that kind of looks like a large birdhouse, full of books that are free for the taking. The “Take a Book, Share a Book” mission is to build community, inspire readers, and expand access to books. Many neighborhoods have Little Free Libraries. Use the Little Free Library World Map to find one near you.
Ready, Set, Read!
Challenge kids to read a certain number of books or amount of hours this summer by providing them with some guidance. A quick online search will display a multitude of downloadable reading challenges appropriate by age. Younger readers might appreciate Reading Bingo with each block assigning what or where to read: a book with a blue cover, with a stuffed animal, in a fort. More mature readers might prefer a bucket list-style challenge with tasks like reading a biography, a classic novel, an award-winner, or a book written by a local author.
Just Look Around.
There are opportunities to read everywhere you go! On the road, have younger children “help” navigate by reading road signs or make it a game by having them call out all the words they can find starting with a particular letter. At restaurants, encourage reading the menu or any advertisements at the table. Older kids can read food labels at the grocery store and once home, read the recipe while assisting with a meal.
An absolute crowd pleaser for sneaking in reading and a whole batch of important skills (like collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving) is playing board games. Reading directions or task cards alone is great practice for kids, so really any board game will work, but there are also lots of fun games that amp it up, like Scrabble (or Scrabble Jr.), Boggle, Upwords, Letter Jam, and Bananagrams.
Find the fun in reading this summer by sneaking it in at any time, in any place. Exposing kids to real-world reading opportunities builds necessary skills that will help in and out of school. So think outside the book this summer and get creative with reading!