Get Everybody Reading This Summer!

Continue building literacy skills this summer to ensure that your kids won’t become susceptible to the summer slip!

By Stef Durr

boy reading in a fort

It’s well known that there’s a slip from the last day of school to the first day of the following school year, and it’s pretty easy to understand why. Kids spend much less of their time reading and writing. They trade their pens and books for flip-flops and video games. Teachers and parents can work together to combat the traditional summer slip by implementing some of the following ideas.

Who’s Up for a Reading Challenge?

Particularly helpful for the busiest of families, reading challenges offer goals and incentives to make reading exciting and rewarding. These challenges are popping up everywhere, and they’re a great way to keep readers motivated throughout the summer months. If you teach elementary school, encourage your class to compete in the Scholastic Summer Challenge. Going on its seventh year, the program is designed to have schools across the nation compete against each other by logging reading minutes. Although the challenge officially began on May 6th this year, with its end date all the way at September 6th, there’s still plenty of time enroll. Although parents and kids can register independently of their school, the top 20 schools receive an honorary plaque, and the winning school gets a visit from the author of Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey!

Are you looking to encourage reading, but are unable to help your class track the number of minutes they read? Share the Barnes and Noble summer reading challenge: read eight books, complete a reading journal, and earn a free a book from Barnes and Noble! Grade-appropriate books have been suggested, and a reading journal is ready to download on the site. How much easier can it get? 

If you teach middle or high school, don’t fret! The need for reading challenges geared toward this age range has been heard. Add non-fiction reading to the list, with a less-formal challenge offered by The Learning Network. The contest begins June 14th and runs until August 16th. During this time, readers who are 13-19 ears old choose an article from the New York Times and write an explanation detailing why they found it interesting. A winner is chosen weekly, and the winning submission is posted on the blog each Monday.

After assigning your class a summer reading challenge, the responsibility of reading then falls on the student and his or her guardians. Print the following suggestions to help families get reading and stay reading all summer long.

1. Visit the Library Regularly and Often

Before I became a teacher, I was a nanny for several different families, and it surprised me how often the library was forgotten. Create a routine. Aim to visit the library two or three times a week this summer. Not only will it introduce your kids to a variety of reading materials, but libraries generally hold classes and events. Read-alouds, dramatic plays, and computer classes are library staples, and they’re usually free!

2. Pair Activities with Specific Readings

Are you planning a trip to Hearst Castle this summer? Driving through Yosemite? Visiting the Everglades? Use your weekend trips to get your kids reading some nonfiction material. Buy guidebooks prior to your trip, or simply search the Internet to see what information it provides. Take turns reading the information aloud before the trip (or during if it involves a car ride).

3. Pass Down a Favorite Book

I was a voracious reader growing up, and it’s largely due to the fact that my parents were always pushing me to read, and offering me book suggestions. Often, kids don’t read because they don’t know what to read, so pass down some of your favorite novels. Not only will it take the guesswork out of deciding on a book for them, but it’ll also allow you both to have a conversation about the book. I still remember snuggling in bed with my mom’s vintage Nancy Drew books and hearing the waves of Lake Michigan crash against the rocky shores of Door County. After my sister finished reading this set of books, I was determined to do the same! 

4. Pick Up Some Magazines

Literacy doesn’t have to come by way of thick, hard-covered books. Instead, hit the magazine racks at the grocery store or before jumping on a plane for a cross-country trip. Depending on the age of your kids, you could search for the following magazines:

  • National Geographic Kids
  • Highlights
  • Time for Kids
  • Sports Illustrated for Kids
  • Boy’s Life
  • American Girl
  • Ladybug

5. Pair Movies with Books

It’s well known that many books spark movie versions. Encourage your older readers (middle and high schoolers) to read a book, and after completing it, rent the movie to see the similarities and differences. The Time Traveler’s Wife, Race to Witch MountainThe Hunger GamesCharlotte’sWeb…the list goes on and on! Take this list to the library to rent both the book and movie, and get reading!

6. Create Reading Goals

Don’t you wish kids just walked down the stairs every morning holding a book in their hands and pleading to read? It’s a pretty rare sight, but creating weekly goals helps both you and your child get something you want. The goals and rewards will vary between households depending upon age, reading level, desire to read, etc. Some of your goals might look like this: read one hour each day, and we’ll go to the movies. To add variety, the next week’s goal (and reward) could be modified: read one hour each day and write a short summary of your reading, and we’ll go to the waterpark. Break out a reading chart  and some stickers. Hang the chart in a highly visible place, like on the fridge. If they can see it, it serves as a constant reminder and motivator. 

Are You Struggling to Find Age-Appropriate Material?

Use these resources to help your youngsters find challenging, yet appropriate, material for their growing brains!

Oprah’s Kid’s Reading List 

Divided either by age (0-2, 3-5, 6-9, etc.) or by category (history, animals, fantasy), this list contains suggestions and short descriptions of each reading selection offered.

Guys Read  

If you’re looking to get your boys reading this summer (and forever after!), check out the website called Guys Read Several short lists are provided for varying categories (classics, cars, historical figures, etc.). 

Scroll the welcome page, and you’ll see a section dedicated to summer reading by grade level. Click on the grade level to read the titles and short descriptions of each suggestion.