Somewhere along the way, too many kids seem to get the message that reading is a drag, is boring, or is just too hard. Perhaps they were assigned too many watered-down textbook excerpts or were made to feel ashamed of the “reading Level” they were labeled with. Maybe they weren’t read to as often as they could have been when they were younger. Or perhaps they’ve never actually witnessed someone enjoying the act of reading. And probably, they’ve noticed that adults see the need to offer prizes and incentives just to convince kids to read.
Whatever the case, it’s no wonder that some children develop negative notions about reading.
If you’re concerned about your child’s disinterest in or struggles with reading, let this be the summer you turn the ship around and instill a love of reading in your children. It’s not as difficult as it sounds and it will benefit them for a lifetime.
Here are 10 strategies to try this summer.
First things first. If you’re hanging onto anxiety about your child’s reading ability compared to his or her peers, let that go. Every child is different. Fluent reading comes easily to some and slowly to others. It’s okay. Meet your children where they are and simply aim to have fun reading this summer.
Despite what reading level your child may have been labeled with at school, ignore that completely. Don’t choose books for your home based on level but on quality, value, and interest.
Go on Bookish Outings
Plan outings throughout the summer to the library and various bookstores. Keep an abundance of books in your home. Associate fun with books and reading.
One of my family’s favorite things to do is to enjoy treats at the coffee shop inside our local bookstore while perusing a stack of books we’ve picked out.
Your children want nothing more than to spend time with you. Book-centered outings send the message that books are for enjoying.
Stock the Shelves
Use online use book resources like AbeBooks.com, visit local used bookstores, even check weekend garage sales to fill your shelves with high-caliber books in both fiction and nonfiction. Keep books organized. Shuffle them around from time to time. Encourage independent reading and reading together. Fill your home with books.
Read to Your Children
If you do nothing else on this list this summer but establish a habit of reading to your children, you’ll improve their relationship with reading for sure. Even if your children are perfectly capable of reading to themselves, read aloud to them. As they get older, you can all dive into richer stories and adventures, making family memories you’ll all treasure.
Perfect for long car rides or evenings at home together, audiobooks are another way for the entire family to enjoy a book together. Our favorite audiobook series is C.S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia.” It’s so well done. There are endless choices through websites like LibriVox.org, which offers free, public domain audiobooks, or Audible.com, the Amazon company offering current titles. Don’t forget to check the offerings at your local library as well.
Double Down on Favorite Topics
What are your kids into these days? I bet you can find some books about it. Football, origami, dinosaurs, World War II, making slime, Matchbox cars … whatever they enjoy, surround them with books about precisely that.
There are so many reasons to greatly limit your children’s use of digital devices this summer—not the least of which is to allow them time to read. Put away the phones and the tablets, and offer up real, ink-and-paper books. If they’re accustomed to staring into that blue light for hours on end, this may be a challenge, but persist. You will not regret it.
I’m talking to you, Mom and Dad. Find books that you truly enjoy and carve out time to read. Model for your children that reading is a worthwhile activity and an enjoyable one. Don’t just tell them, show them.
Make room in your home for an abundance of books. Become a family that reads, and make sharing books together a warm and loving part of your life. Delight in the best ones you find. Turn to books when you have a question. Spend this summer in appreciation of books.
As you read, you’ll naturally show young children how to sound out the words and exemplify to older children the rhythm and timbre of language. That’s all you need to do. Simply enjoy reading together. When summer comes to a close, keep on reading. In their own time, your children will become proficient readers, which will benefit them immensely their whole life through.