Back in January, Anne-Marie Myhre was our very first Woman of the Month. She shared so much great knowledge about the importance of reading with our kids. I absolutely loved all the information she had to share, but with the summer months stretching out before us, I wanted to learn more about how we can keep our kids excited and motivated to read.
Today she’s sharing five awesome tips on how to ignite summer reading fun with our kiddos. These are great for any age, so keep on reading for all her helpful advice!
As you pull out the sunscreen and swimsuits and prepare for warmer weather, I encourage you to get the kids in your life excited about a summer reading adventure. Reading over the summer is critical for maintaining and expanding the intellectual development of children of all ages, and it’s the most wonderful time of the year to get lost in a book. My hope is that the five tips below will help ignite reading fun for your family while keeping your child’s mind sharp over the summer.
Sort Your Collection
If you don’t already have a home library, this summer is the perfect time to assemble one! One of the main reasons for the “summer slide” in reading is limited access to a wide variety of books. Utilize baskets or bins, a special bookshelf or closet and get your kids to help. Sort your books in a way that makes sense and is fun for your family.
Right now, our favorite way to sort our picture books is by color. However, there are endless ways you could organize your collection. Try doing it by author, genre, size, or—for an even bigger challenge—where the story takes place! You’ll be amazed at the books your children rediscover while sorting titles. Old books will become new again, and you’ll have fun conversations about the stories you used to read over and over. Be sure to also strategically place books around the house. I keep a basket of books in every bathroom. My oldest daughter loves to read in the bathtub. Who doesn’t, right? After you’ve finished sorting your books, let your child choose a few new titles to add to your collection as a treat.
Change It Up
Try to think of your child’s reading routine like working out. In order to continue to get good results and stay motivated you must alter your practice in some way. Encourage your kids to read in unusual places. Hang a sheet over the dining room table and create a fortress just for reading or challenge them to read while lying upside down on the couch or while swinging outside. I encourage you to break the rules on occasion. Let them stand on top of the coffee table to recite a poem.
If you really want to shock them, you go first. Can you imagine your child’s expression when they see you standing up on a table and giving a dramatic reading from a book? Talk about making reading look fun!
Every now and then, let them stay up past their normal bedtime just to read. And don’t forget about the great outdoors. Have a reading adventure right in your own backyard. Bring out sleeping bags and yummy snacks and enjoy an adventure tale by moonlight. Inserting a few delightful surprises in your child’s reading routine is sure to capture their attention and motivate them to want to read more.
When children can make connections to something they have personally experienced or read about not only do they understand it better, but also they are more likely to be interested in the text. Challenge your children to read a story that reminds them about a past vacation, a fun experience, or someone they know. Have them participate in vacation planning. My daughter read three different Disneyland guidebooks before our first trip to the Magical Kingdom, and she loved being the expert on all the insider tips.
You can also encourage your kids to make connections to other books. Just the other night, I was reading aloud The Faery’s Gift before bedtime. It’s a heart-warming tale about a woodcutter who is given a wish for saving the life of a small fairy. The story inspired me to ask my kids if they could think of another book in which a character is given a wish. So far we have a list of three stories that we are excited to reread. And who knows, this may also be a nice segue way into a fun writing activity where we all get to write our own wish-granting tale.
The single most important thing you can do to raise a reader for life is to read aloud to your kids at all ages. The benefits are really too numerous to list. Not only do your children benefit from your time and full attention when you read a book aloud, you also are modeling what real readers do when they read. You have the power to make a book come to life by reading with expression, pausing, and stopping to wonder out loud or ask a question. Your kids will learn to listen and become better readers just by experiencing the stories you read aloud. This precious time is also a great opportunity to introduce different authors, genres, and your childhood favorites. Encourage grandparents and siblings to get in on the fun and take turns reading aloud to the family, too.
Travel the Globe
This summer, give your kids a cultural experience without leaving town by reading books that explore the wonders of our planet. Choose age-appropriate books that will take your child on a reading journey to each of the continents. As you read books from different countries and cultures, you will nurture your child’s ability to empathize with others while having a whole lot of fun discovering our similarities and differences. I recommend using an atlas or globe as a foundation to help develop a sense of geography. By enjoying stories from other cultures, your child will gain insights that are needed to succeed in both academic and social situations in today’s global world.
And, if you’re interested in more literacy-boosting tips and activities, sign up for Barefoot Books FREE World Passport Summer Reading Program. There’s a downloadable reading log as well as a guide to age-appropriate global titles.
Enjoy a summer full of reading fun!