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10 ways to keep your child reading this summer

Use these creative ideas to get your child hooked on reading this summer.

By GreatSchools Staff

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.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

08/29/2011:
"I love reading! And I also love to share it also with my kids. With your ideas above, I think it would be easy for me now to share this passion of mine. "
07/25/2011:
"Many books (comics included) are written by adults who have no knowledge of children's vocabularies. It's no fun to have to look up the pronunciation or meaning of a word as you're reading. If you want children (5-10) to enjoy reading, publishers should consider publishing books with words that are easy to figure out . . . not, having to go to the dictionary for any of them. For example, maybe a story written at the interest level of an 8 yr. old, but has all sight words and/or easily pronouncable words (using phonetics) . . . so the child does not have to ask someone "what is this word?" Then, he could read for pure enjoyment! :-) "
07/26/2010:
"very interesting, thank you!"
07/30/2009:
"Please make mention of the value of reading to infants as well. Further, please mention the positive impact of reading to youngsters e.g. Harlem Children Zone. Hard to tell another culture what to do, but there is a severe lack of parent training outside of the majority culture."
07/24/2009:
"These are all great suggestions. I use bookadventure.com to find grade appropriate material for my son and it has an area where my son can take a comprehension quiz. It is free, fun, and easy to use."
07/21/2009:
"I would like to know if you have an idea to help children of immigrant/migrant families to take advantage of your educational strategies. I am interested in education and I am looking for programs, info, materials, resources to mobilize and work with low-income-literacy communities and parents."
06/25/2009:
"Thank you for your good ideas and tips and referrals to other sites that might be of help! I really appreciate them! My son, Ben, has adhd and I have used many of the tips I read on your website. Ben had a writing assessment this spring and received a 5.0, advanced on his writing! Wahoo!!"
05/19/2009:
"These are great tips to teach kids that reading could and should be fun. If you're going to include the small screen for inspiring kids to pick up a book, you must include SuperWhy! (PBS). It's from the creator of Blue's Clues and my five year old loves it and her interest in reading has skyrocketed from Whyatt and his superhero pals. A SUPER big recommendation here!!"
07/28/2008:
"I appreciate your numerous articles that offer information to parents that are simple, straight forward and easy to read. My only request is that MORE articles could be available in Spanish. Thank you for helping teachers, like myself, reach out and build stronger partnerships with our students' families. "
07/24/2008:
"Great tips. I have used many of these tactics for some time now and they work well. I plan to try some of those being suggested. Thank you. "
07/23/2008:
"Every summer we make a book chart which we hang on the wall to see how many books the kids can read during those 3 months. They get a dollar a book which they get to spend during that first week of school. My daughter however is starting 4th grade and we are trying to get her to read more chapter books at 2 dollars a book. Wish us luck! "
06/17/2008:
"I maintain that the best way to get kids reading is to not offer them easier options. If you keep them away from TV, the Internet, and video games from the time they are babies, they will not see those forms of entertainment as options and will be happier finding other forms of occupation. My parents did this, and because they were consistent about this approach since I was a baby I never resented their prohibitions. This encouraged me to be a great reader."
04/8/2008:
"These are great ideas, for kids of all ages to practice the enrire year."
03/14/2008:
"yes, be a reading role model"
03/13/2008:
"I have three daughters,ages 8, 5 and 3. Every evening we spents half an hour reading, we take turns reading to each other. Even the 3 year old gets a chance to picture read for us. We then discuss the stories read and I clarify any doubts they might have about the story.I encourage the older child to have her dictionary handy for new vocabulary words. I find that this helps more than if I tell her the meaning everytime she meets a new word. This has really helped the girls with language arts area in school. They can reason well, write better and are usually peered off with other children to assist in reading. "
03/13/2008:
"This article actually has some great suggestions, some of which I have always followed in my home. I've always had a love of literature and tried to pass that on to my five children, I make sure they see me reading and make sure there's plenty of reading material available for them to read. The trick is to find what appeals to your child. For example, my 14-year old son, didn't care so much for the classics, but he loves mangas (Japanese comics) and books of that type, so I got him a subscription and he's become an avid reader of them. It doesn't matter if you agree with the type of media they choose, it's more important to me that they just read. For older children, newspapers and periodicals provide plenty of subjects for them to read about and we usually try to fit the discussions into our dinner/family conversations. We all need to take personal responsibility for our children's education, so many times, we shift the responsibilities to the schools but how can they effectively educate when we allow our children to spend hours in front of the television or playing video games? Limit these influences, I'm not saying get rid of them, but make it a habit of cutting all the electronics off at some part of the day and encourage your child to get lost in the wonderful world of the written word."
03/5/2008:
"My daughter has a love/hate relationship with reading. If it is for a report, she hates it because I KNOW she has not been trained in report writing/long-range planning (we switched schools because of what I felt was an inadequate education). She is really intelligent but feels like a stupid idiot because of her lack of training. I wish I could afford to live in the more affluent area where they have excellent schools. I also feel like the 'no child left behind' act is actually leaving 'every child' behind. And if a kid has to be put on in-school suspension, the next time he/she gets in-school suspension, one of the kid's parents should also have to sit ALL DAY with that kid in in-school suspension. I realize everyone works, but the lack of parental participation at my daughter's middle school is sickening and abhorrent."
07/19/2007:
"I think these are great suggestions. I'm 46 w/ a 16 year old who reads for his chosen profession,(writing) and an 8 yr old (girl) who doesn't like to read. I read like crazy - my parents complained about me sitting at the dinner table w/my book holder & a book. ( I still have the bookholder, about 40 yrs.old) I think we as parents in this Internet & tv/media age need to understand what we're up against, reaffirm for ourselves what we enjoyed about reading (imagination) and turn stuff off in an understanding way. We sought forms of entertainment, like reading, going outside, making up games in the house and the bathtub, because that was what we knew. If kids are sitting in front of designed and computer generated games, how can we expect that they are going to seek less obvious entertainments? As parents, we can't ignore what 'is' in terms of our society and culture. We can acknowledge that things have changed, and work toward a compromise that emphasizes reading and acknowle! dges the technology."
07/19/2007:
"My kids do not like to read period. I do try to read in front of them, take them to the library etc. They are more ineterested in DVD's, singing or dancing!! Both girls, 9 and 12. I got a tutor for the 12 year old because I know she needs it."
07/13/2007:
"This is of great value for children. Thanks very much Lakshmi"
07/2/2007:
"I AGREE THAT READING DOES HELP AND I READ SOME GOOD IDEAS ON HOW TO ENGAGE READING. I ALSO AGREE WITH SOMEONE WHO HAD STATED THAT THE SCHOOLS NEED TO GET MORE INVOLVED WITH THE TEACHERS AND GET THE CHILDREN FOCUSED. WE NEED LESS KIDS PER CLASS ROOM AND IF THERE'S A BAD CHILD IN THE CLASS THEN THE CHILD AND PARENT SHOULD GET A WARNING THEN AFTER THAT IT SHOULD NOT BE TOLARTED. I'VE SEEN BAD CHILDREN IN CLASS ROOMS AND MOST OF THE TIME THE BAD KID IS TAKING UP VALUEABLE CLASS ROOM TIME. OURS SCHOOLS NEED TO GET STRICT BECAUSE THIS WORLD IS GETTING STRICT AND WE NEED OUR CHILDREN TO GROW AND KNOW THE WORLD AROUND US. "
06/29/2007:
"I found that finding books that are along the same lines as some popular movies also. Example would be my daughter liked Brothers Grimm movie, so I found Sisters Grimm the series . My daughter loved them, she flew threw the first three. Now she is reading books I remember reading as a child like Judy Blum's 'Double Fudge'."
06/26/2007:
"Summer reading is liking churning homemade ice cream with my children. Yum, Yum, and cool. Keep it simple from reading cereal boxes to reading the roadside adverstisement billboards(* the positive ones). Have fun hearing your child read to you and with you as much as possible."
06/18/2007:
"Great Ideas for this summer, thanks.I'll try, you see I am a busy mom I work 2 p/t jobs, all I want is vacation... don't get me wrong I love my babys I have a 15, 13, 11, 7. one of them is a honor student one of them is almost their,but the others don't even try. I try all of that and I still do it I had planty of fight with the two oldest about school and reading, I don't want to become their worst enemies re member that age is so hard. ALL I WANT TO DO IS ENJOY THE SUMMER JUST LIKE THEY DO!!! Teachers start doing your job in Newark, New Jersey. "
06/18/2007:
"I just wanted to let you know that I had a 'practical' reading experience with my daughter just the other day. I was perscribed a new medication and was reading the instructions and my 9 year old daughter said, 'people actually read this stuff!' I took the opportunity to say YES we read every day for enjoyment and to teach us things too."
06/7/2007:
"MY 7 AND 9 YEAR OLD READ 20 MINUTES A DAY! AT FIRST THEY WERE LIKE 'AWWW MOM' BUT NOW THEY SEE HOW FAS THE TIME GOES BY WHEN READING. AFTER THEY READ WE SIT AND I HAVE EACH CHILD GIVE ME A 1 MINUTE REVIEW. I JUST EXPLAINED TO THEM THAT WHEN READING A STORY YOU DONT WORRY ABOUT COMMERCIAL INTERRUPTION THE VOLUME BEING TO LOW OR HIGH AND YOU CAN STOP AND GET A DRINK OR USE THE RESTRROOM AND YOU WONT MISS ANYTHING!!"
06/6/2007:
"These are absolutely great ideas.I had never thought of starting a book club but I am encouraged, i think it's something I can do, and will do.My kids are great readers and implementing these other interesting ways of getting them excited about reading I think will keep them reading always."
06/6/2007:
"My child loves to read and one of the ways I encourage her is by listening to audiobooks. She is 5 now and loves to listen to Junie B. Jones cds as she follows along with the book. Other times she is listening without the book and reads the chapter the following night. Audiobooks encourages reading and literacy. Many classic stories such as those in the Rabbit Ears collection contain stories that we enjoyed as a family - The Ugly Duckling read by Cher or The Velveteen Rabbit read by Meryl Streep. It also helps when we are running errands, we listen in the car. Hope this is helpful."
06/6/2007:
"ya right like this stuffs going to work. look i'm a 9th grader going on 10th when school starts again and reading in high school was really really hard for me!i tried to join a book club but no one showd up at the meeting so the school didn't have it. then i tried reading on my own and i wanted to kill my self. basicly i hate reading! and beacause of that my spelling and vocab sucks! what u need is for the school to get involved! don't just give us more deadlines and more words to read. that just screws us up more.we are not all reading freaks. although when the teacher made us read a book together like 'To kill a Mocking Bird' i understood it! the teacher explained how to go along reading it and what the heck was going own if we got confused. So don't give us these stupid tips, deadlines, and quizes.THEY DON'T HELP OUT WITH HIGH SCHOOL STRESS!we need involved teachers! every school should have a book club not matter what. Maybe then our test scores will go up finaly. cause right now we just have teachers that do their job.they don't get involved with the students. i know school is sopose to help u in the real world and i dont expect u to 'always hold are hand'. But come on!We NEED HELP! thats all i have to say ."
05/30/2007:
"These are all great ideas. My 12 yr old daughter was an avid reader up to the age of 9. She lost some interest in reading when she entered middle school. To get her reacquainted with her love of reading, I began asking her to read to her then newborn baby sister. Since that time, (baby is approaching 2), she reads to her bedtime and often find activities that involve , YES, even the baby reading. I'm happy to report, she's back to being an avid reader. "
05/14/2007:
"These are terrific tips! I am a fourth-grade teacher in LAUSD, and am constantly exhorting parents to read anything in front of their children, including cookbooks, manuals, newspapers, etc. I encourage them to allow their children to read comic books and magazines if their children don't read naturally, because these items have high visual interest, are sequential, and expose children to dialogue and/or expository articles. I teach in a neighborhood with no bookstores, but a great library, and many parents are not literate in Spanish, let alone English. These tips are very helpful."
04/16/2007:
"my oldest daughter is an avid reader. My son who is 8, he almost rather have his teeth pulled than read a book. So we decided to have him plant a garden, reading on different plants etc. He definately has enjoyed this aspect of reading. "
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