A New Look at Summer Reading: How to Use the Summer to Help Explore the Brighter Side of Reading

By: Miss Caitlin

The Texas summer is definitely upon us! On top of the scorching heat, another thing we have to worry about is reading skill decline in children who are on break from school. Research shows that over the summer, children can regress in months from their current reading level, which over time adds up*. Engaging your child with summer reading is a great way to combat any declines and maintain important skills that are crucial to future success in school.

But another reason to encourage summer reading, is to facilitate the development of a lifelong, healthy relationship with reading. Loving to read is a wonderful gift that often isn’t cultivated in the culture of our schools.

On the other hand, summer, beautifully lacking the direction of schoolteachers and harsh reality of grades, is the perfect time to show kids that reading can be self-motivated and joyful. This summer, I encourage you to take advantage of the fact that your child is free to explore a different side of the written word.

So how do you convince a child who wants to swim in the pool to read a book instead? How do you draw someone into the magical world of words if they aren’t willing to crack open a book? After all, they have worked so hard during the school-year, it might be difficult to ask them to work again over the summer.

My solution? Remove the work and reintroduce the magic of reading. Here are five tips for getting kids involved in a different kind of reading this summer:

  1. Show them reading is “cool”: Take any opportunity you can to bring reading into the conversation in a positive way. Read books yourself in front of your child, ask your VT what book they are reading, and bring up reading at the dinner table with your family. Turn the conversation about reading away from stress and towards excitement.
  2. Make reading a group activity: Take turns reading paragraphs from your child’s favorite book. If your child is too old for this, you can also simply sit together in the same space while you both read. This is especially good for kids who are extra social. You can even form a family book club!
  3. Incorporate choices: If your child gets to choose books they can get excited about, they can discover that not all reading is too boring or too hard. This can blossom until they are more open to reading in general. While you may not want them to only read graphic novels for the rest of their lives, letting them have free choice is a great way to open the door on joyful reading.
  4. Personalize your Efforts: Engage your child in reading based on their personality. Does your child love to act? Have them read a play aloud in the kitchen. Does your child like to sing? Have them read song lyrics from their favorite artist or sing children’s poems to their favorite tune. Is your child a future scientist? Create a book of experiment “recipes” and read it together while you perform various hands on experiments. Take any opportunity you have to connect reading with things they are passionate and excited about.
  5. Join in our Summer Reading Challenge: For external motivation, have your child participate in our Summer Reading Challenge, where we celebrate any and all types of reading our patients do. Ask your VT about how to get involved!

These tips aren’t just for kids, either! For those in high school, college, or beyond, if you haven’t picked up a book for fun lately, I encourage you to rediscover the magic of reading solely for the sake of enjoyment. It’s something uniquely human and an incredibly amazing gift.

One last thing: your relationship with your child is incredibly special and these generalized tips might not work for everyone. If you are having trouble and these tips seem like they don’t apply to you, please reach out to your VT to brainstorm other ways to engage your child with reading.
Have a great summer and happy reading!

*McGilll-Franzen, A., & Allington, R. L. (n.d.). Bridging the Summer Reading Gap.

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