One of the things that I challenge our family with every year is to foster a love of reading during the summer months. It's a great time to read books for pleasure since there are no school assignments or required readings. Reading is a passion of ours and it's our hope to pass that on to our kids. But, it's important that they don't just view reading as a "school" thing. It's a "life" thing in the McKee home.
But, I'll be honest, with the prominence of video games and other media options, it takes some intentional effort for all of us. My kids truly like reading. But, without some encouragement from us as parents, it's still likely that they'd tend to take the easier road and opt for the TV.
So, mom, how can you help keep your kids engaged with reading during the lazy days of summer? Here are a few ideas that have helped us over the years:
- Help your child select books on topics he is interested in and are on his reading level. It will be worth the effort to dig around, look online, and ask for suggestions from friends. Good books make reading so much more fun. (A simple rule of thumb for helping your child select books at his reading level is to have them choose a page in the book (not the first one) and read it. If he doesn’t know five or more of the words, then the book is too hard for pleasure reading.)
- Have plenty of books, books on tape, magazines, and other reading material around for kids to read. Keep books in the car and make sure a good book gets tucked into go-bags.
- Set goals and reward reading. Your local library probably has some great resources and summer reading incentives. If not, check out www.scholastic.com for their summer reading challenge.
- Ask your kids about the books they’re reading. Talk about the storylines and the characters. This will help them experience the book at a deeper level and it might produce some great conversations as you help your child evaluate how the characters wrestle through life.
- Set aside a time and a place. If you can create cozy space in your home just for reading, the emotional association will be a good one. And that makes a huge difference.
- Let your kids see you read. I almost always have a book with me so that if we’re stuck waiting somewhere, I can read a few paragraphs. Our kids know that reading is a valuable pursuit - not because we tell them to read but because they see Rick and I reading a lot.
- Make reading together fun and memorable. My kids are both good readers in their middle school years now; but they still love to be read to. It’s one of our favorite times of the day. I know I’m sort of a nerd but I really get into it and like to use different voices for different characters as I read to them. Reading together is a bonding time for us each evening.
- Read it, then do it. Does your child want to learn to knit? Create her own computer game? I bet there’s a book on that! Non-fiction books are a great resource that most children don't consider.
- Connect reading with other summer activities. For example, read books about places you will go over the summer or things you will be doing.
What about you? What ideas would you add?