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No more teachers, no more books…well, you know the rest. But how about that “no more books” thing? While summer gives us a break from homework and reading logs, taking a break from reading is not really the best thing for our kids. Convincing your child to pick up a book this summer doesn’t have to be a chore. Making reading a family activity can be fun! And since reading is integral to success both in and out of the classroom, the rewards will last a lifetime.
Need some help motivating your child to read this summer? Why not take a trip to your local, air-conditioned library? Many libraries run fantastic, reward-based summer reading programs. Using game boards and stickers, kids (ages birth-11) can track their summer reading, earning a sticker for every book, 20 minutes, or 50 pages read (you and your kids can choose the best method). Teens (ages 12-18) can track their reading online on a secure website where they can also write reviews for other participants to see. There are even programs for adults! And with cool prizes like toys, gift certificates, hi-tech prizes (for teens), and a voucher for a free book after they reach their goal, your kids will be motivated to keep reading all summer long.
Library programs are great partners for parents, but you are really your child’s biggest inspiration. When your kids see you relaxing with a book this summer, they’re more likely to try it themselves. Why not make a game of it by starting a family reading contest at home? First, make a scorecard listing everyone’s name to hang on the refrigerator. Next, set the rules: choose start and end dates, agree to count pages or minutes-read (whatever seems most fair for your readers), and let the reading begin! You can offer a grand prize for the winner, but don’t forget to reward runners-up for participating, reminding them that when everyone reads, everyone wins.
Since summertime reading should be more about having fun and less about academics, it’s important for children to really enjoy what they’re reading. According to a Sylvan Learning survey conducted by Harris Interactive in March, 2013, 94% of youth ages 8-18 said they like reading more if they get to choose the books. You can guide them, but let your kids feel as if they have the final say in what they read this summer. If your 8-year-old son wants to read a comic book instead of a chapter book, let him! Many comic books contain detailed artwork, lots of characters to keep track of, and complicated dialogue and plot twists. They can provide great exercise for his brain, and isn’t that the point? Likewise, if your child wants to read a book that you think may be too challenging, go ahead and let him; he may surprise you! For help choosing some great summer titles with your kids, try the checking out the Scholastic Books for Kids page.
Summer break gives kids the down-time they need to feel refreshed for the new school year. It’s a time for cartoons, ice cream cones, water fights with the hose – a time to be a kid! Making summer reading fun is the best way to keep your kids’ skills fresh without making them feel the stress that can come with being a student. With all that reading fun, your kids will learn this summer without even knowing it. Shhh…don’t tell them!