It might be the only dreaded part of summer break…the required summer reading list.
If you’re lucky, this is one article you don’t have to read because you have a voracious reader at home, one who probably finished the required summer reading two days after school got out.
But if you’re like me, and you have some reluctant readers in your house, pay attention. I’m going to give you some tips on how to encourage your kids to read the summer selections – maybe even before the night before school starts.
1. The family that reads together. Call a family reading hour. You can either take turns reading the required summer reading out loud or let everyone read silently. I suggest you do it all in the same room. Those kids who sneak off to the bedrooms to read probably won’t.
2. Like mother, like daughter. Or like father like son. Or whatever combination you want to put together. One way to help your child accomplish the summer reading is to read yourself what they are supposed to be reading. That way, you know the story. You can ask pertinent questions. You can have a book discussion.
3. Treat it like a book club. Invite a few of your kid’s friends and their parents over for a book club night. Make snacks related to what you’re reading. If Holes by Louis Sacher is on the menu, serve onion rings. Provide a list of 3-5 questions that your guests can discuss.
4. Eat it like an elephant. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I find that my son can be overwhelmed by the number of pages or chapters in a book. Choose a deadline by which the book must be read, then divide the number of days between now and the deadline by the number of chapters. Make a calendar so your child can see what chapters should be read each day. If there’s time, give them a day off for good reading habits.
5. Play to their strengths. Some kids are auditory learners. While reading a book is downright painful, listening to that book is a viable option for getting the information into their heads. If you find an unabridged audio version, they could follow along in the book as they listen.
6. Let the children lead the way. Some schools will allow children to choose their own summer reading content. Don’t worry if your kid wants to read Goosebumps while the neighbor kid is reading Harry Potter. There is no right or wrong way to read. Chances are, if the child gets to choose the book, he or she will be more likely to read it – and to maybe choose another book just for fun when they are finished.
Of course, there are always the two favorite standbys – bribery and punishment, but that’s not really the way to cultivate a love of reading, is it?
Amy Magan is a mom to three teenagers, one voracious reader, one reluctant reader, and one in between. Her favorite read this summer has been When Breath Becomes Air.