“Make sure your kids read over the summer!” It sounds so easy but we both know that it’s not. Time has not dimmed the memory of living with five school-age children. Time has not dimmed the guilt that ensued when I sent them back to school knowing they did not read as much as they should. Time and experience, however, did teach me a few tricks. By the time my youngest was coming up, I was armed and dangerous when it came to summer reading. Here’s three of my best tips…
1. Plan in advance Too often daily reading falls flat on its face because your child has not found a book that is both motivating and appropriate. Head that off right now. Gather at least six books that your child might be interested in reading over the summer. Each night, from now until the end of school, take a few minutes to preview a book together. Read the synopsis, make sure the book is not too difficult for him to read independently, and then read the first few pages (preferably the first chapter). Finally, talk about it and give your child the chance to decide whether or not he would like to put it in his “to read” pile of books. Trust me, this works like a charm. When I do this with my students they want to start reading most of the books right then and there. Your enthusiasm and willingness to read aloud in your most expressive voice can go a long way towards drawing your child into the story and hooking him on a book. Try it!
2. Offer a Reward Sure, we all wish our kids were intrinsically motivated but most of the time, they’re not! When it comes to something as essential as summer reading, bribe if you must. One summer, I noticed that my son and many of his bright, young buddies had lost their interest in reading. I asked four of them if they would like to have a summer book club. This was the deal. Each week, they could gather at our house, share their books and have plenty of snacks. Every time one of them finished a book, they earned a letter. Anyone who read six books and spelled D-O-R-N-E-Y (for Dorney Park) earned a trip to this amusement park at the end of the summer. Yes, every boy read six books and I took the group to Dorney for a day of fun. Now these guys are in their thirties and when our paths cross, they invariably mention our book club. It was a win/win for all!
3. Read Together There’s nothing quite like sharing a reading experience. Make it a point to read the same book as your son or daughter. You’ll be surprised at the wonderful literature available for young people and your child will be surprised that you care enough to read and discuss a book with him. Also, when you read a book together, you can enjoy it in a variety of ways. In addition to reading independently, you can read parts aloud to your child or vice versa. That way, if your youngster is tired or just “not in the mood”, you can still be sure that he gets his daily dose of reading.
Well, there are my top three tips. Remember in unity there is strength. I’ll bet many of you have a few tips of your own. Won’t you share them with us?