By Leah Courtney
Too often when kids have a break from school work in the summer, they also think that they have a break from learning. But if you take off three full months in the summer, kids end up having to spend the first month in the new school year relearning information they once knew.
One way to prevent this occurrence is to keep kids reading all summer long. Reading can help kids to stay learning and thinking over the summer. Here are five fun ways to keep kids reading throughout the summer.
- Sign up for reading contests and rewards programs.
Most libraries have summer reading programs for kids (and sometimes for adults as well!). When kids sign up, they are given a goal to meet. If they meet the goal by the end of the summer, they receive a prize packet. Usually the goal is measured in time read, not number of books read. So slower readers or younger readers aren’t penalized. Our library also counts time read to or time listening to audio books, so even kids who can’t read yet can participate.
Besides your local library, chain bookstores often have summer reading contests. Kids sign up at the store or online and are rewarded based on books or minutes read. If you can’t find a local library or bookstore program, create your own. Set a goal for your child and come up with your own prizes—or a family prize—when the goal is met.
- Visit the library … often.
Besides the reading contest, many libraries have programs for kids all summer long. These programs are usually themed to fit that year’s reading program. And, best of all, they are free and fun for the whole family.
The best thing about being at the library so often for the summer programs is that kids are more likely to check out books because they are there. And the more books kids check out, the more they’ll likely read. So make good use of your local library.
- Have a book basket.
We keep a book basket throughout the school year. It’s filled with books that relate to whatever theme we happen to be studying. Are we focusing on life cycles in science? We’ll fill the book basket with books about life cycles. Are we reading about the ancient Romans in history? Our book basket will be filled with books about ancient Rome. Each day the kids are supposed to spend thirty minutes with book basket books. Some of the books may be longer chapter books that they come back to each day. Some are shorter picture books that can be read in one sitting.
The book basket can be kept going all summer as well—even if regular schooling stops. Pick a different theme for each week or for each month of the summer. Have kids spend thirty minutes a day with the book basket. The time they read can count toward a reading contest as well.
- Read together regularly as a family.
This is my favorite way to keep kids reading (or being read to). Reading aloud as a family has many, many benefits. Over the summer it can be a great way to keep kids reading. Have a regular reading time. We always try to read aloud at lunch time. And vary your reading. We usually think of reading aloud fiction. But nonfiction is good for reading aloud as well. (I’ve found that biographies make really good read alouds.)
- Take audio books on trips.
Often families travel in the summer. When you’re traveling, audio books are a great way to keep the reading going. Check out books on CD from your library and play them as you travel. Or rent or purchase digital audio books and play them on your electronic device. You can find many great kids’ books—fiction and nonfiction—available as audio.
Reading can help kids to keep learning and thinking all through summer vacation. With a little planning, you can keep your kids involved in reading all summer longer.
Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. She was a school teacher in her former life and now loves homeschooling her children. Recently she began the adventure of homeschooling a high school student.. She loves reading and reviewing and blogging about life and homeschooling. You can visit her at As We Walk Along the Road.