Summer Torture...I mean reading :)

I think every mother has great intentions when it comes to their kid's summer reading.  Personally, at the beginning of the past 3 summers, I have vowed to read to each of my kids for 1 hour every day.  I have set out to encourage each child to finish two books per week for each of the entire 12 weeks of summer. Plus, because writing is so good, I am sure that I can have each child write at least two pages in their summer journals every morning before they open the cereal box.  Finally, all of my children will happily complete EVERY summer reading program that has ever been introduced in the first month of summer. Then they can help all of their friends finish their goals, so that together they can have a huge reading parade where everyone dresses up as their favorite character...and then I wake up.

Summer reading is not easy!  Even the best, most realistic, plans are easily forgotten when there is fun to be had.  After many summers of trying to get my kids to pick up a book instead of a remote, let me suggest a few ideas that have worked for us.
  • Set reasonable goals WITH your kids, and then reward them for accomplishing these goals. It doesn't matter how great your aspirations are, if your kids aren't excited about them, it won't happen!
  • Let your kids choose their own books. Don't worry if they pick books that are too easy, they are still reading, plus their fluency will improve.  Every adult reads "throw away books" (or celebrity magazines) just for fun; below grade level books are the National Enquirer equivalent for kids.  Any book your child reads will help them.  If they want books that are too hard, look for the audio version and have them following along while listening.
  • Keep it simple. I once had a friend who had her son read a chapter from a different type of book each day of the week. He hated it! He didn't complain about having to read, he just was tired of reading biographies and encyclopedias.  Plus, he really wanted to actually finish the adventure books before school started again.
  • Take advantage of "book based" summer blockbusters. Inevitably, the big summer movies always include a few "based on the novel by..." Try and have your kids read the book first, and then go with them to opening night. I have been to more midnight showings of "book" movies with my kids, than I have regular movies. Not only do I love it, but my kids do too.  Their favorite part is driving home complaining about the differences between the book and the movie.
  • Use local reading programs. I know this seems obvious, but summer reading programs offer valuable rewards. Barnes and Noble does a program that allows your child to choose a free book after he/she has read any eight books. Who doesn't love free books?  Most libraries have a summer reading program which offers multiple incentives through the summer.  Last year while visiting my sister, both our families completed her local library's reading program and the kids were rewarded with free theme park passes! Yours may not offer a theme park pass, but most include free kid's meals, stickers, museum/zoo passes, and free books!  Can't beat free!  Don't put off starting the summer program either, the big prizes usually are available only to those who read most of the summer.
Whatever you do, try to stick with it. Take a short audiobook with you on a road trip, and then put in the CD's instead of a movie. Offer extra "screen" time for older kids if they read to younger siblings. Or maybe, pick a fun new series and see if your kids can finish all the books before the summer is over.

Keep it lighthearted and fun, this way the only torture you inflict upon your children will be over their chores (and I have no advice on that)!

Happy Reading


  1. During summer when I was growing up I just couldn't stop reading. My mom would take us to the library repeatedly and it was the best thing for me. Your ideas are perfect for the kids who don't just naturally devour every book in sight. I'm still having a hard time relating to my kids who don't want to read every waking minute....

  2. Liz!! I found it! I was a little bored and luckily remembered the title. I LOVE IT!
    - Julie


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