The school year is packed for most children, so summer is a welcome break from the routine of homework and studying. One of the best summer pastimes and easiest ways to mitigate summertime regression, says Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center, is a daily reading habit. “As school gets increasingly more time-consuming and rigorous, children who once enjoyed reading start to see it as just another ‘have to’ instead of something they like doing for fun,” she says. “But with its slower pace, summer is the perfect time for parents to help their children reignite their love of reading.
How can you help your child embrace reading this summer? Huntington offers these tips:
Check out summer reading programs. Summer reading programs through your local library are book store make reading fun, offering children rewards for reaching certain goals and building a sense of community among readers. Check out Huntington Learning Center’s Reading Adventure Program, which is going on all summer long. Children choose books from a pre-selected book list and earn prizes for meeting reading goals. Online, look at programs like the Scholastic Challenge, “Read-a-Palooza,” which invites readers to enter their reading online and complete weekly reading challenges.
Stock the home library. Help your child start his or her very own book collection and designate a space in the home as the cozy reading corner, complete with a bean bag and bookcase. Make trips to the bookstore a special treat (keep an eye out for sales or memberships) and start becoming regulars at your local used book stores.
Springboard from another passion. If it feels easier said than done to hand your child a stack of books to start reading over summer and expect success, try a different approach. Begin with your child’s other passions. If your child is a basketball player, for example, perhaps autobiographies on favorite players might appeal. Your local librarian is a wealth of information, so be sure to ask for ideas.
Get recommendations. On that note, choosing books haphazardly isn’t the best way to find books your child will love. Seek recommendations for the best summer books and good vacation books to read—from the librarian or bookstore employee and on websites like Goodreads.com and the Young Adult Library Services Association book finder.
Bring books and reading into your life. During school, homework, activities and other things might take center stage. But now, it’s summer—an ideal time to relax a little. So, make reading a nightly family tradition. Gather on the porch or patio after dinner with drinks and books for 30 minutes of reading time. Read the same book as a family. Choose a book-turned-movie and make plans for movie night when you all finish. And of course, make frequent trips to the library and bookstore.
It’s simple: the more your child reads, the better he or she will become at reading. And Huntington reminds parents that the best way to encourage reading is to get children to consider it an activity of choice. “Reading for pleasure often takes a backseat as children grow older and other activities dominate their attention,” she says. “However, summer presents a great opportunity to remind children what a wonderful activity reading really is. Find ways this summer to incorporate reading for fun into your lives, and you’ll notice your child choosing to do it more.”
To learn about Huntington’s summer reading program or how Huntington helps students become stronger readers, call 1-800 CAN LEARN.