Summertime is here, TGIS! Time to enjoy longer days, looser schedules and hopefully your kids engaged in great books. Reading in the summer maintains skills developed in the previous school year and prepares your child for the upcoming fall. But as importantly, it also allows your child time to read purely for enjoyment. Here are some tips for getting them interested:
1. Let Them Pick What They Want
Comic books and graphic novels are ok! This is especially true given the variety and sophistication of all the many available today. Narratives are of course great too, but it’s better to have your child read a graphic novel for 2 hours because they love it than fight them to read some other more traditional book for 20 minutes. My middle daughter spent an entire summer with her nose in Archie & Veronicas. She grew out of comic books (and your kids will too!), but her love of reading remained forever.
2. Put Books Everywhere
Visit the library, the bookstore, a second hand shop and make sure books are all around your life. Put a bunch in the back seat of the car, on the kitchen table, in your pool bag. Kids pick up books if they are around, and they can handle multiple narratives. Don’t worry about that one book traveling with you everywhere (and of course which you’ll inevitably forget someplace!), just put lots of books in lots of places.
3. Take Turns Reading
Don’t be afraid to pick up one of your kid’s books yourself. Read it to yourself and then ask your son or daughter about something in that chapter. Read it out loud and let him or her enjoy it with you. Ask your child to read a chapter to you. Reading is one of the best ways to connect as a family and also one of the easiest. If you engage in your child’s text, your child will engage as well.
4. Read Yourself
Many people say, ‘I don’t have time to read’ or ‘I don’t like to ignore my child by reading my own book’. Kids listen to half of what you say but watch everything you do. The more you read, the more they will too. If you pick up your own book a few times, your child will start to do the same. Next thing you know, you’ll both be curled up on the couch reading together.
5. Make It Fun, Not Punishment
This is important, don’t make reading the thing your child has to do to earn something better (aka: ‘if you read for a half hour, you can watch TV’). This develops reading as an obligation not a pleasure. Try instead to build reading into the parts of your day that will make it fun: Before bed, all kids like to postpone bedtime! As an alternative to doing chores, ‘You can help me empty the dishwasher or you can read while I do it’. With a great snack and time together, ‘Let’s make a big bowl of buttered popcorn and get in bed with our books!’
Summer is the time of year when you can let it go a bit, so do! Let the chores go slightly undone, the bedtime be slightly later, the rules bend here and there, and then let reading sneak into those moments. Your kids will love it and as a result they’ll love reading too.