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7 Ways to Encourage Kids to Keep Reading Over Summer

Posted by Jennifer Hester on

Summertime! It's my favorite season. I think of swimming in our pool, dripping popsicles, refreshing strawberries and watermelons, and spending all day at the beach. But have you heard of summer learning loss, or summer slide? This is a phenomenon that refers to students beginning a school year with achievement levels lower than they were at the end of the prior school year.

One way to prevent that summer slide is to keep your kids reading while they're on break from school! 

Let's talk about some ways to incorporate summer reading alongside all that swimming and all those yummy popsicles! It's a good idea to keep reading light and fun over summer, while at the same time recognizing its importance for your students or children.

If you're a teacher, be sure to share this information with your students' parents. Click here to download a free, editable Letter to Parents summarizing all these ideas. Perfect to send home before they leave your class for summer!

And if you're a parent, you'll love these ideas to uphold at home!

1. Find out if your local library has a summer reading program.

My library offers prizes for kids as they hit certain goals while reading over summer. The prizes are things like: free meals at local restaurants; free tickets to local attractions; and fun little prizes, like books, toys, or reusable bags. Oftentimes, they'll have some sort of system where you can log minutes or pages read online. Do some research to see what your local library offers!

Child standing with Summer Reading Program advertisement in local library

2. Read aloud to them, even if they're older.

My daughter is nearly 8, and her favorite time of day is right before bed, when either her dad or I read to her. Yes, she is a strong and independent reader now. But she still loves to cuddle up in bed together and listen. It's truly a time for special bonding. 

And reading to your older child has other benefits too. When they listen to you read, you're modeling fluency for them. They hear you reading with expression, they hear proper reading pace, and they're exposed to new phrases. They also get to be swept up in a story without getting stuck on the details, or on difficult words. 

For read-alouds, you can choose books that are higher than their independent reading level, which will expose them to new and different authors, styles, genres, and worldviews. 

Me reading a picture book to my 3 month old babyMe reading The Lightning Thief to my 7.5 year old child

3. Take advantage of audible books and podcasts.

Amazon usually offers a free 30-day trial for Audible. Try it out, and you'll discover why audible books are so awesome for kids! If you're taking a long car ride, listen to a book in the car! I bet the whole family will get hooked.

Podcasts are a great way to get kids to listen to short stories! You might think your kids will get bored. But I think you'll be surprised! Good podcasts are more than just stories being read aloud. They often incorporate music, sound effects, and funny voices. Try out Stories Podcast or Purple Rocket Podcast for some very well done short stories.

4. Set goals together.

Whether you're the child's parent or teacher, set some goals and complete them together. Yes, that means you will be reading through the summer too! After all, the best way to teach is to lead by example. Display your child's progress in a prominent place, like on the refrigerator.

Click here to download this fun Summer Reading Goal Sheet!

My Summer Reading Goals Sheet for display

5. Choose some books that connect to field trips or movies.

Entice your child to finish that book by promising an end-of-the-book incentive.  For example, watch the movie version of the book together for family movie night, or take a field trip related to the book's topic! Maybe you can go to the natural history museum after reading a book about dinosaurs, or perhaps you can visit the aquarium after reading a book about sea creatures. 

6. Know your child's reading level.

For books, guide the child in choosing books that they can't put down AND that they can read independently, for the most part. Be sure they're not reading books way above their reading level, as this will just lead to frustration and giving up.

It is okay, however, to read books that are too easy for them, or books that are slightly above their reading level.

Use your child's teacher and your local librarian as resources to find out what your child's appropriate reading level is. Your child's teacher may know their Lexile level, or their Accelerated Reading level, which are easy to look up for whatever book you are considering for your child. 

If you want a quick (and unofficial) way to figure out if a book is appropriately leveled for your child, use the five-finger rule. To do this, flip to any page in the book and have your child read it aloud. If the child has trouble reading more than 5 words on that page, chances are it's too advanced for them. This isn't a hard and fast rule, though. Use your discretion, or try it out on more than one page in the book if needed.

7. Try some creative activities or projects to accompany the book.

Teachers and parents alike love my Activity packs which contain open-ended activities, project choices, and creative ways to interact with novels. You'll love seeing the higher-level thinking and the art that comes as a result of using one of these packs.

Click below to see some of my popular ones!


In case you missed it, click here to download a free, editable Letter to Parents summarizing all these ideas. Perfect to send home before they leave your class for summer!