The research is clear that kids lose educational progress while on summer break. It is estimated that this summer slide accounts for as much as 85% of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and their upper/middle class peers.
This summer regression happens math, science, writing, and especially in reading. Reading offers a gateway into all the other subjects. Reading allows children to stretch their brains and heighten their imaginations. While reading, they pick up information about science, grammar, and history. It can inspire them to read more and want to learn more.
But my child doesn't like reading in the first place. How am I to get them to read during their summer break?
Tips to Encourage Summer Reading
1. Find a Summer Reading Program
Early and continued summer learning experiences are proven to lead to things like higher graduation rates, increased self-esteem and confidence, and higher motivation in kids. For these reasons, and many more, finding a local summer reading program for your children to participate in is a great way to work towards encouraging them to read this summer!
To find a summer reading program check places like your local library, or book store. These places often offer summer reading programs and incentives for kids of all ages. Often in these programs they can win prizes, earn books and more.
2. Offer them Choices
I know when I was in school I despised all the academic reading that was required. It left me no time to read for pleasure. As my children grow older I find the same to be true with them.
Kids are much more likely to want to read if they get to choose the books they are reading. So take them to the library and let them look around. Or go to a book store where so many genres are on display. You don't have to buy at the bookstore, but you can get lots of great ideas there.
Another I do is when we go to the library I pick up books that I think might interest them, or that I think look good. Then I leaving them sitting out for them to see. Most of the time something will catch their eye and I will find them with a new book in their hands.
3. Create a Fun Reading Space
Creating an intriguing place to snuggle up and read can bring the fun back to reading.
Pitch a small indoor kids tent, or create a hula hoop canopy.
Buy a few inexpensive pillows and create a reading corner for them so sit in.
Make a cozy spot under a table with a table cloth or sheet to cover the openings.
4. Offer Reading Rewards
Maybe you can't find a local summer reading program. Or maybe you want to do something all year long. You can create your own incentives such as a reward system or the use of a reading log.
You can have smaller rewards for a smaller number of books read, and a large reward (maybe a trip to a fun place or something they really want) for more books read. Consider going to a bargain store and buying a basket and fun rewards to put in it for them to choose from.
5. Take a Book Related Field Trip
Read a book and take a field trip!
Read a book about animals and head to the zoo to check them out in person.
Read about the ocean and visit an aquarium.
If you have local places of interest like the habitat of the Chincoteague horses or the Laura Ingalls Wilder house then read about those and take a day trip.
6. Watch the Movies Too
Many books have been made into movies. In our house we make it a rule to read the book before seeing the movie. It has become a great incentive when a movie is in the theaters that the kids want to see but I know there is a book to be read first.
You can also spend some time comparing and contrasting the book and movie after experiencing both of them. Talk about how they were different. Were there things left out or added in the movie as compared to the book? Did the movie portray the characters as you pictured them in your head while reading the book?
So as summer approaches, considering planning ahead to create a fun environment to encourage summer reading.
About the Author
Heidi Ciravola has been married to her husband for over seventeen years. Together they have three children with whom they began their homeschooling journey with in 2006 when their oldest was beginning second grade. Heidi is a mother, taxi service, and homeschool parent by day and an avid reader and homeschool blogger whenever there is time left over. You can visit Heidi at her blog www.startsateight.com where she blogs about homeschool products and unit studies, homeschool organization and general tips, and homeschooling high school, as well as many book reviews, lists, and unit studies.