The idea that reading is important isn’t just an intuition. It’s supported by research, like this and this and this. To avoid the dreaded “summer slide” in reading achievement, parents and teachers alike want children to read year-round. However, reluctant readers can and often do pass the entire summer break without ever cracking a book.
A couple years ago, we brought you this post on ways to promote “Summer Lovin’ of Math,” rom-com style. In that same vein, we premiere here the highly anticipated sequel “Endless Summer Reading.” Here’s the montage:
Scene 1 – Pick a novel location. Reading a book in a new and interesting place can take reading from ho-hum boring to ta-da exciting! Try sitting under a tree at the park or reading by flashlight under the stars. Just being outside boosts mental energy and improves concentration. Going on a family vacation? Find interesting places to stop and read along the way. The outdoors isn’t your child’s thing? Build an inside fort or create a cozy reading nook. Throw in some comfy pillows and a stack of books. Location doesn’t matter. It’s novelty that stimulates the brain!
Scene 2 – Go on a scavenger hunt. Turn a trip to your local library or book store into an adventure with a scavenger hunt. Aim for variety. Encourage kids to find different book genres, authors, lengths, and formats. Choose award-winning books and popular ones. For reluctant readers, flashy artwork or a book jacket blurb can offer the hook they need to try something new. Summer is a great time to push kids outside of their comfort zones. It’s also a good time to add lighter fare to the mix. Think graphic novels, joke books, and comic strips. Humor can decrease boredom and increase motivation for learning!
Scene 3 – Take the challenge. Engage friends or family in a summer reading challenge. Who can read the most minutes in a day? a week? a summer? Step counters are a proven way to track daily exercise and improve overall health. Why not apply the same principle to reading? A little healthy competition might be just the motivation kids need. Reading volume is important for reading proficiency, and kids with greater access to books and greater choice in what they read tend to read more. Find out if your library sponsors its own reading challenge. Many do and offer prizes for participation!
Scene 4 – Bring the family along. Modeling works. When adults and kids read together, reading can become part of the family routine. Set aside a time for reading each evening. Encourage book shares at family meal time. Listen to an audio book on a family road trip. Think of shared reading as the new “superfood” to prevent summer reading loss!
Scene 5 – Make it a movie night. Summer is a time for fun and entertainment! Fortunately, reading can be both. To convince kids of this, entice them with a movie night. Some kids lack the desire to read, even though they know how to. This problem—known as aliteracy—is a growing concern for adolescents. One way to counteract the trend is to raise the social appeal of books. Kids are often surprised to learn that a popular movie is based on a book. This makes movie night the perfect reward for reading a book. During the movie, encourage kids to become a movie critic. Ask them to point out subtle differences from the book and find deeper meanings they hadn’t noticed while reading. These are the same skills used in close reading techniques. Movies may be a surprising way to expand kids’ reading repertoires. But they can be powerful examples that our greatest stories really do originate in books!
Speaking of movies, it seems that every blockbuster film has a sequel, and every sequel has its own sequel. So, stay tuned for part 2 of this blog and a few more scenes from “Endless Summer Reading”!