Some kids will read willingly at school, but will do anything under the sun to avoid it otherwise. Keeping kids reading during the summer months is a must! When kids don't read over the summer, their reading level is almost always lower when school starts back up in the fall. We all know how fast the school year picks up once it starts, and there's not much time then to make up for lost reading time.
Here are some ways to make summer reading a fun and enjoyable activity—not a chore—for kids in your program:
- Provide a variety of reading materials—the latest books, comics and magazines are more likely to engage youth interest.
- Make reading fun! Find fun places for children to read—a tent outside, a fort, on the playground swings, at a nearby park, et cetera.
- Help kids get their own library cards. Libraries are wonderful resources for summer! They also have summer reading incentive programs and mobile book libraries.
- Set time aside every day for reading. Consistency is key, especially for those kids who are not naturally motivated to read. For example, every day after lunch have them read for twenty minutes.
- If you're traveling on field trips and you don't have a large selection of books, have them read other things—signs, literature about the destination, billboards and so on. Fun reading games while traveling are the typical ABC word hunts. Kids will find words on billboards, signs or vehicles for every letter of the alphabet.
- Set up a book club! Reading with friends is more fun.
- Have kids try buddy reading. Invite older kids to read to younger ones. This could be viewed as their first "job"!
- Read with the kids. Choose a chapter book suitable for your group and read it together every day.
- Another nontypical reading activities is MadLibs. You can find tons of these free online if you search "MadLibs for kids." Kids will enjoy filling them out and then reading them out loud!
- Reading and writing go hand in hand so encourage kids to keep a summer journal.
- Create a summer pen pal program. Kids love getting mail and e-mail. Reading letters is fun for kids!I
- Many books become movies. Encourage kids to read the books before they hit the theater. Check out the list of 2016 release here.
Written by Carrie TenBrink, a first grade teacher at Cannonsburg Elementary, Michigan, and Heidi Ham, NAA Vice President of Programs and Strategy.