There is no question that one of the single most important skills to teach our kids is to read. I would argue that it is not only our job to teach them HOW to read, but more importantly to LOVE to read. The amount kids read has a direct relationship to better scores on standardized tests and an easier time with grammar, spelling, and writing. As we approach the summer months, how can we motivate them to spend part of their days reading and not lose all of those skills we have worked so hard on during the school year?
1. Sign up for Summer Reading at your local library
Most public libraries have some sort of a Summer Reading program complete with a way to track your child’s reading and prizes! For just 20 minutes a day, my kids can win a huge stuffed animal
(that we don’t need), a child’s meal at Chick Fil’A (I’m up for anything that gives me a break from cooking), or a book of their choosing. It is an easy (and free) way to motivate them to read throughout the summer.
2. Keep Track of their Books
As part of our portfolios for the school district, we have to submit a list of books that the kids have read throughout the school year. Starting in the summer, we keep a running tab using an excel spreadsheet. My kids are motivated by the total number of pages and total number of books they have read. I am a big proponent of showing kids their progress and making a big deal out of it! (“I can’t believe you read 5000 pages so far! I wonder if you could reach 6000 before the end of the school year”). This is a perfect way to do that.
3. Reward System
If keeping track isn’t enough, consider rewarding them when they reach specific goals. For example, when a kindergartener reads 25 books, that calls for a reward. When the middle schooler reads 5,000 pages, she receives a reward. Here are some ideas for easy rewards.
- Bake cookies with Mom
- Bike ride with Dad
- Choice of a movie for family movie night
- Ice cream cone at Dairy Queen
- Trip to a local park
I believe that spending time with our children is what they need and desire the most. In a big family, my kids feel any one-on-one time with either parent is a huge deal. The sense of accomplishment they feel, coupled with the recognition is enough to spur them to more reading!
4. Read Aloud
After lunch each day, I read aloud to my kids for about 20-30 minutes. Often times we read historical fiction or books that are required reading on someone’s book list. I try to pick books that are really interesting and have sequels. When they ask for the next book in the series, I encourage the kids to read that on their own. I have also stopped at the end of “cliffhanger” chapter or even in the middle of a chapter with the kids begging to read the next one. Then encouraged them to read the next chapter on their own and retell it back to me
so I don’t miss the exciting part of the story either.
The added benefit of reading aloud was revealed to me after my son took his standardized test. In the listening skills section (proctor reads aloud a selection and the student has to answer a series of questions about it), my son scored in the 99%.
This completely shocked me because quite frankly I feel like he needs a hearing aid half the time. I attribute it to all of the reading aloud that we do.
5. Pick interesting books
There are tons of great books out there. Mary has done a phenomenal job of creating booklists on this site. Check out the “Booklists” and “Curriculum” tabs on the home page. Here are some older posts for other ideas:
Whatever you do, get those kids reading! What other ideas do you have for motivating your kids to read?