Now that school is out, are you wondering how you can get your kids to read during the summer? More importantly, are you wondering how you can get your child to actually enjoy reading so that they develop a love of reading that rivals your own?
You’ve probably heard some of the more popular ideas—create a summer reading list, make mandatory reading time, or limit your children’s access to digital electronics, etc.—to encourage reading. However, I believe that these types of tactics can actually teach your kid to view reading as a chore or a punishment and can be detrimental in the long run.
The trick is to encourage your child to read by showing them how much fun reading can be so that it becomes an activity they choose to do without being coerced into it.
1. Read Books Aloud to Kids to Get Them Started
For younger kids that can’t read yet, or can’t read well, it’s great to spend some time reading together. While reading together, you can share your enjoyment of the story while helping them develop the comprehension skills needed to enjoy books on their own after their reading skills are more developed.
2. Independently Read the Same Books as Your Kids
Reading books targeted at kids may not be your preferred reading material, but reading books alongside your kids that they enjoy, acting excited, and sharing your thoughts on their books will really help encourage your child’s reading habit.
Think about how excited you are to talk about your favorite books with your friends. It’s the same with kids, but they’re probably even more excited to share the experience with their parents.
Plus, reading with your child can help motivate your children to read more. Are you ahead of your child in the book? Hint that they’re really going to like what happens in the next couple of chapters and you can’t wait to talk to them about it.
3. Don’t Set a Daily Reading Limit
Schools are already teaching kids to view reading as a chore, and no one likes chores. The trick as a parent is to get your children to look past this mindset and learn to view reading as a fun past-time.
While setting daily reading limits and withholding playtime or other fun activities until they’re done is a popular method for getting children to read, I feel this may actually cause more harm than good. Instead, encourage your children to read every day, but don’t set a required limit and don’t withhold other fun things from your kids if they don’t meet a requirement. You don’t want them to view reading as the enemy, and even the best readers take days off from reading sometimes.
4. Never Stop Reading With Your Kids
So many people stop reading to their kids once they’re old enough to read on their own. However, It’s never a bad thing to read to your kids, even after they have mastered the art on their own.
Kids who are read to even after they can read on their own are more likely to continue to enjoy reading as they get older and reading together can help them get over reading slumps, creates valuable bonding time, and can help get kids into books they didn’t think they’d be interested in.
5. Choose Books that Go Along with Their Latest Interests
This could be anything from a main character that also has the same interests as your child or a book specifically about their current interest and hobby. Think buying dinosaur books for a child going through a dinosaur phase or a book about inventors for a child who is constantly building and coding things.
6. Leave Interesting Books Out for Kids to Find
As your kids grow up, they will most likely try to find their own independence and a part of that usually means that mom’s and dad’s advice is no longer cool. So, if your child is constantly ignoring your book suggestions and is starting to read less, perhaps leaving out a few books that you know will tempt them can help them pick up a book without feeling like you told them to do so.
This is especially effective if you leave books in places where your kids will tend to get bored; leave a basket of books in your car or in the bathroom. Or, if you know you’re taking your kid somewhere where you’ll have a long wait, conveniently pack a book that they may find interesting so you can hand it to them when they complain of boredom.
7. Help Your Kids Download an Ereader App on Their Device
You know your kid isn’t going anywhere without his or her phone, tablet, or iPod (whatever device they carry around), so teach them that they’ll never be anywhere without a book either. And maybe, just maybe, the next time they’re sitting around bored and they’ve already checked social media, they might just open up their ereader and read for a while.
Do them one better and take this time to help them fill their ereader app with lots of interesting and free ebooks for them to enjoy. Book Cave has new free and steeply discounted books every day! They work with authors to discount their books and make reading more affordable.
They also provide another amazing service to readers and parents where they content rate each book. This means you’ll know exactly what kind of content is going to be in a book so that you can only download the books that you and your child are comfortable reading.
8. Take Your Kids to the Bookstore or Library
Try as hard as we might to pick up books we think our kids will love, sometime it’s hard to find that special book that will spark their interest. So, take your child to the bookstore or library where the possibilities are endless and let them pick for themselves.
If your child doesn’t want to go to the bookstore or library? Tell them you’re not going there for them, but that you’re going for you, and the most convenient time for you to go is during a time when they’re already out with you.
9. Don’t Put Excessive Restrictions on Electronics, but Don’t Allow Electronics where They Don’t Have to Be
Limiting your child’s digital time won’t necessarily have your child running to books. They may instead opt to go outside and ride their bike, draw, hang out with friends, or take a nap. However, there are times and places where, without digital devices, they will have few options but to read.
For example, car rides. If you’re going on a trip in the car, don’t provide a DVD player for your kids to watch and advise them to save their phone batteries for when they actual get there. Without digital devices, reading becomes pretty much the next best thing you can do in a car.
Bedtime is another great time to limited screen time. Tell them you’ll be taking their devices at a set time every evening to help your kids sleep (there are lots of studies to back you up here) and that if they want to stay up later than that, then they’re welcome to grab a book.
10. Let Kids See You Reading
The best way to teach is by example. So, if we want our kids to read, we should show them that we love to read too. For some, this may mean giving up your quiet reading spot away from all the noise for a slightly louder reading spot in the family room. Or that you read a little more in the daytime rather than at night when everyone is in bed.
This may mean opening yourself up for some distractions while you read, but you should be happy to welcome these distractions, especially if it’s a curious child asking what you’re reading. Kids mimic what they see, and you may just notice your kids picking up books more often as they start to see you read more.
11. Teach Your Child that Reading for Pleasure Isn’t like Reading for School or Work
If your child has only been reading for class, they may think that reading means structure, boring old classics, critical thinking, and reporting back once they’re done. Teach your kids that pleasure reading is nothing like this. Teach them that pleasure reading can mean graphic novels and popular fiction. That pleasure readers can skip around the book, skim boring parts, and even peek at the ending.
Teach kids that they don’t have to finish books that don’t interest them—they can drop them and move on to another story. This seems like common sense, but you might be surprised by how your child perceives reading.
12. Organize Your Home Books by Interest
Organizing your books by interest can help your child know which books to pick up next once they’ve finished one they like. To do this, go through your books and group books with similar plots and story elements together. That way, each story will be surrounded by books similar to them, so if you child makes their way down the shelf, they’ll continue finding stories they love.
13. Always Pack Up Books for Yourself and Your Kids Whenever You Go Somewhere
Whether you’re going to the beach, the doctor’s office, or grandma’s house, make sure you have a book on hand, not just for yourself, but also for your kids. Kids aren’t always the best at packing for themselves, but by always having a book on hand for them, you’ll make sure you’re not missing out on any reading opportunities, and your kid won’t be able to keep telling you they’re bored. It’s a win-win!
14. Buy the Book a Favorite Movie Was Based on
Odds are, the television shows and movies that your child loves are based on books. So pick up a copy of that book the next time you’re out. Your child already knows they’re going to love the story, and they’ll love learning the extra details from the book that were overlooked by the movie. Plus, if your child is struggling with reading, reading a book about a story they already know will make it super easy for them to comprehend the book.
15. Don’t Worry about Whether Your Child Is Reading “Advanced” Enough Books
There is a huge group of adults who still love reading books targeted toward “young adults.” So if adults are reading books below their technical reading level, why get caught up on if your child is reading books meant for fourth graders instead of fifth graders? As long as they are reading and enjoying it, does anything else matter?
16. Read with Your Children at Night Before Going to Bed
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can never read out loud to your kids enough. And no one is ever too old for a bedtime story. Reading together strengthens relationships and is great for your child’s intellectual and emotional development.
17. Go on Monthly Book Outings with Your Family and Friends
Take your kids and their friends to a local book release part, or head on over to a bookstore and see what types of bookish activities they have coming up. If nothing sparks their interest, then make an adventure of it.
Play book scavenger in a used book shop, have them search for a missing book in a series or more books from their favorite author. Have them search for one book from a couple different genres to expand their reading interests. See who can find a certain book first. The possibilities are endless. And while they’re occupied with their search, you might get some time to browse in peace too.
18. Play Book Charades (Or Other Bookish Games)
If we’re being honest, only half the fun of reading is actually reading. The other half of the fun is joining fun fandoms, talking about books with your friend, and playing book related games. Book charades is a great way to show your kids that there’s more to reading than simply “reading.”
19. Find a Book While You’re Travelling or Make a Travel Journal
One of my favorite times to buy a book is when we’re travelling. Some people collect christmas tree ornaments, shot glasses, magnets, or spoons, but we collect books. My kids get extra excited about picking up books that relate to the places we’ve just seen and tech them more about it. Plus, they help hold are memories when we come across them later.
Another great way to incorporate books when you’re on vacation is a travel journal. This can be one journal that you take on all your vacations and slowly add too or a separate journal for each trip. You can but a formal travel journal from a store or you can make your own out of a simple notebook. It doesn’t have to be fancy to hold your memories.
Thanks to Book Cave for letting us use their images. Make sure you hop on over to check out their amazing free ebooks and other fun book-related services! You won’t be disappointed.
What other tips do you have to help your children develop a love of summer reading? Let us know in the comments below!