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8 Ways to Keep Your Kids Reading This Summer

“Don’t take a vacation from reading this summer.”  Those are the words I tell my students as they exit my classroom every June.  The truth is, many of them won’t pick up a book for months.  This means a rude awakening in the fall when they find themselves out of practice and possibly behind academically.

If you’ve got a reluctant reader, here are my 8 tips for keeping them reading over the summer vacation.

8 ways to keep your kids reading this summer

1. Set a routine.  Expect your child to read every day for a set duration of time.  Most kids can handle 20 minutes a day without too much grumbling.  Use a timer if your reader is trying to duck out early (just don’t leave an egg timer unattended as they magically go off when parents leave the room).  While at school, students are accustomed to the daily schedule.  If you set aside 20 minutes a day for reading, they’ll become used to it as part of your routine.

2. Model the behavior.  There’s a saying that a reader is born on the lap of his parent.  Share the joy of reading with your child.  You can do this by reading with them (even older children appreciate being read to) or being a reader yourself.  Growing up, my parents read every night after Jeopardy. It never occurred to me that reading was optional — it was a part of everyone’s daily life.  My children are young enough that they don’t realize that People Magazine isn’t going to improve my vocabulary so while I model reading, I can also catch up on celebrity gossip.

8 ways to keep your kids reading this summer

3. Provide interesting reading material.  In the classroom, I hear “There’s nothing I like” all too often.  Use online resources like Scholastic.com’s Book Wizard to help narrow the choices. Enter your favorite book and find similar titles, with an adjustable reading level.

Often children have an interest level that is different than their reading level.  Struggling 9-year-olds don’t want to read “baby books.”  If this sounds like your child, you’re looking for “High Interest Low Level” books.  Your local library is staffed with experts who can make recommendations based on skill level and interest.

4. Celebrate all reading.  When I put on my teacher hat, I can discuss the high value of certain literature — the books that deepen understanding of the world at large, challenge our ever-expanding lexicon, and inspire our curiosity.  When I put on my mom hat, I wonder why all of those things can’t happen while reading an Iron Man comic.  The whole point is that we instill a love of reading.  How do you do that?  You allow them to read things that make them happy.  Plus, it’s summer vacation.

8 ways to keep your kids reading this summer

However, there’s an important conversation to be had with your child.  We read for lots of different reasons, only one of them being entertainment.  Your conversation could go something like this, “Although my People Magazine or your Iron Man is fun, we also need to practice reading skills like figuring out what new words mean or predicting what characters will do.”  I guess I need to get myself a new book too.

I wouldn’t count Iron Man in the required 20 minutes, but I’m never going to discourage any reading.

5. Keep track.  There are tons of adorable reading logs available online.  All you need is a special place to have your child write down the book he/she is reading.

6. Provide incentives.  Join Reading Clubs, like the one available through Barnes & Noble.  After reading & recording 8 books, children are awarded a free book from Barnes & Nobles’s approved list.  My local children’s library has a similar program that awards readers with small prizes.  Is this bribery?  Yup, but I’m not above bribing them to clean their rooms, brush their teeth, or not beat each other so I see no reason why I can’t bribe them to read.

8 ways to keep your kids reading this summer

7. Peer Pressure.  From bribery to peer pressure…I’m Mom of the Year.  Invoke your children’s friends to make reading fun.  Set up a small book club to read & discuss popular titles.  If you’re up for a little work yourself, read the book ahead of time and make a trivia game for the book club to play.  If finding enough copies of one title is a challenge, invite children to become book salespeople and try to “sell” the book to a friend.  If kids know that their friends liked a book, it gains credibility.

8. Go digital.  Don’t pry the electronics out of their little hands just yet.  Use them in your favor.  My husband prefers a dedicated reader, so he uses a Kindle.  I like the multi-faceted iPad.  Through iTunes, I can browse their collection of e-books for titles available for purchase or many that are available for free.  If this is an appealing option, an iTunes gift card would make a great gift.

Whatever approach works for you, I hope you use the summer as an opportunity to nourish your child’s love of reading and better their skills.   When they head back to school in the fall, your child and his/her teacher will be glad you didn’t take a vacation from reading.

How will you keep your child reading during the summer?

About Melanie

My name is Melanie. I love glitter, my family, and making lists.


  1. 1

    Thanks for including our reading log in your list! Love these ideas.

    One thing that I learned from a child behavior professional is the the difference between an incentive and a bribe is very specific. It has to do with when the reward is given. If the reward is given after the positive behavior, it’s an incentive. If it’s before, then it’s a bribe. It may look like semantics, but the evidence based research shows that incentives can change behavior positively, while bribes don’t. 🙂

    • 2
      Melanie says:

      You’re welcome. It’s super cute!

      Thanks also for including the distinction between bribe and incentive. I whole-heartedly agree. I go to work each day partially because I like the smiling faces, but also because there’s an incentive for me. I work, I get paid. For children, incentives are equally powerful.

  2. 3

    As a mom and teacher, I love these tips! Keeping them reading over the summer is so important when it comes to transitioning back to school in the fall! It’s also a great lifelong habit!

    • 4
      Melanie says:

      You can tell who hasn’t been reading over the summer, can’t you? Enjoy your summer, Mariah!

  3. 5

    I have my daughter reading through my culinary magazines… my fledgling foodie 🙂

  4. 7

    Luckily, my toddler and preschool just adore reading books, so I don’t even have to worry about keeping them interested. We read books every single day.

    • 8
      Melanie says:

      It’s such a great habit, and your children are lucky that you’re helping them to maintain their love of reading.

  5. 9

    Such great advice. I think the most important one on the list is choosing the right books. I found that series worked best with my kids. If they enjoyed the first one they would have reading for months. They loved Harry Potter, Captain Underpants, Goosebumps and almost every kid, tween and teen book series there was.

  6. 11

    As a kid I wouldn’t stop reading – these days I’m more on and off with it so maybe I’ll have to try this myself as I do love getting lost in the world of make believe 🙂 x

    • 12
      Melanie says:

      I have picked up classic children’s literature recently (Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, etc). They’re great for rediscovering make believe.

  7. 13

    These are really great tips! I love the reading club incentives.

  8. 15

    Great tips! And I didn’t know about the Barnes & Noble program, we’ll have to check it out.

    • 16
      Melanie says:

      I love free programs like that. Owning books and building personal libraries inspires kids to keep reading.

  9. 17

    My son loves getting read to (he’s only 2) but I do need to start reading paperbacks around him. I didn’t think of that. Great tips.

  10. 18

    These are all great tips! I have already started having the boys take a reading break each day during our downtime while camping. In fact, they are doing it right now.

  11. 20

    Great tips! I love the peer pressure idea.

  12. 21

    I love reading myself, and have set a goal for myself, to read one book per week during the summer. My children are joining our summer reading program and hopefully they will exceed their own reading goals this summer.

  13. 22

    We started to read funny poems, that helped!

    • 23
      Melanie says:

      Great idea! You can build some great skills with poetry, plus it sounds like everybody’s having fun!

  14. 24

    It’s like pulling teeth with my 12 year old…

  15. 25

    These are wonderful tips! I plan to set aside some reading time for my children at least 3-4x per week to keep them fluent and in learning mode throughout the summer.

  16. 26

    great tips! my oldest is into The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Flat Stanley and now we started reading Harry Potter together. My younger two are still into more simple books, but Thomas is popular.

  17. 27

    Luckily my son LOVES to read. One of his favorite things to do.

  18. 28

    My daughter is older and reads on her own but these are wonderful tips for my younger nephews, thank you for sharing.

  19. 29

    I too have a reluctant reader in my home, I make sure to find topics she’s interested in so that she spend some time reading. Right now that means the Revolutionary War and pirates, LOL!

    • 30
      Melanie says:

      Sounds like she’s ready to skip grades and start writing her master’s thesis. She can defend her writing on the Revolutionary War while speaking like a pirate. Good luck!

  20. 31

    A trip to the library helps w/ number 3. I go through all the aisles, pick out books I think she’ll like, she reads the summary, then decides yay or nay. We generally leave with a couple dozen books and she loves it!

  21. 32

    These are great tips! We try and make a trip to the library at least twice a week during the summer so that the kids always have new books.

  22. 33

    We joined our summer reading program at the library.

  23. 34

    I think I do all of the above LOL. The big one to win over my oldest is definitely digital.

  24. 35

    My daughter loves to read so really all I have to do is hand her a book!

  25. 36

    To be honest, I’ve never been much of a reader unless it’s business, techy, or spiritual books. However when I downloaded the Kindle app for my tablet I became a fan of reading. So in order to get my kids to read, I purchased each of them a Kindle Fire and give them a budget of $25 to purchase books. When they’ve read the books and tell me about them, I’ll deposit another $25 into their book buying account. Even through my daughters are grown (1 in college) and my son is 16, I’m finding that they are starting to enjoy reading much more as well.

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