During the summer, books might be the last thing on your child’s mind. Most kids are ready for a break and happy to trade in reading, writing and arithmetic for summer camp, family vacations and lazy beach days. But many studies have shown that children who read when they’re away from school perform better academically than those who don’t. Here are 10 ways to get even the most reluctant reader engaged in a reading adventure.
1. Use Hollywood to inspire your child to read
Take advantage of movies and DVDs that are based on books appropriate for your child’s age. Watching all the Harry Potter movies or renting the DVD of Hoot, based on Carl Hiaasen’s first novel for young readers, may pique your middle-schooler’s interest in reading the books, if they haven’t already. Likewise, the film version of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory gives you an opportunity to introduce your younger child to other books by the same author, such as James and the Giant Peach or The BFG.
2. Play a summer reading game at your local library or start your own book club
Many libraries offer online sign-ups for these popular summer reading programs. Most have a set reading list and if children read all of the titles within a certain time frame, they win a prize. You could also create your own reading game at home with a chart, stickers and perhaps a grand prize of the child’s choice. Another alternative is to get a group of kids together to form a neighborhood book group, where members can discuss what they are reading and/or exchange books.
3. Involve your child in planning your family vacation
Whether it’s a trip to the ballpark or across the country, have your child research the players, the sites and even the weather in programs, brochures, guidebooks, a Farmer’s Almanac or on the Internet.
4. Start a collection
Help your children become experts on something this summer by starting a collection. Encourage them to visit Web sites, view videos and look for library books to learn more about their new interest.
5. Visit a comic shop
The transformation of classic comic strips like Scooby-Doo, Spiderman and Batman into major motion pictures has renewed an interest in comic books. They make especially good reading material for visual and artistic learners, as they allow readers to make easy connections between picture sequences and written text. Encourage your child to read comics and even create his own comic strip this summer.
6. Read cookbooks and packaged food labels
Have your children select recipes they would like to try. Include them in grocery shopping and meal preparation. Encourage them to read product labels so they know what they will be eating. You might be surprised to find they enjoy family meals more when they’ve taken part in the process.
7. Read instruction pamphlets
This kind of “practical” reading helps children connect reading with hands-on learning. Reading instructions for building projects, assembling games or blowing up pool toys can give children a real sense of accomplishment.
8. Read the newspaper aloud
Start reading parts of newspaper articles aloud and encourage your child to do the same. Some newspapers even have children’s sections. This is a great way to engage your child in conversation and promote his interest in what is going on in the world. Suggest to your child that he read aloud to a sibling or young friend, or volunteer together to read to an elderly person.
9. Get a magazine subscription for your child
There are numerous magazines that are targeted to young kids and preteens. Kids can often identify with the voice and subject matter, and the articles will hold their attention. Even if it’s not Swiss Family Robinson, the benefits of continued reading might make up for the lack of weightier content.
10. Be a reading role model
Let them see you read. Read anywhere — the airport, bus stop, doctor’s office, swimming pool, etc. If they see you reading for enjoyment, they will want to read, too.