• Adelle Southall

5 Summer Reading Tips for Parents


With summer we get a break from the demands of the school year and we're now free to do as we please with our child’s time.

Summer camps! Heck-Yeah!

Trips to the pool - For sure!

Lazy days around the house - I sure hope so!

Summer reading - Heck to the yes!

Summer reading is the best reading! No one is demanding you to read this book or that book. You get to choose the books. There is nothing better to encourage a reluctant reader than letting them choose the books that they want to read.

But how do you get your child on board with summer reading?

Today I have 5 tips to encourage summer reading and prevent the summer slide.

But first, let's start with the why.

Why is summer reading important?

Summer reading is important because it can help prevent the summer slide.

The summer slide happens when kids are not focused on school. Their brains can get a little rusty just like yours or mine. When they don’t have the structured 5 days a week where they are asked to focus on academics, their thinking gets a little looser and they will lose some of the skills that weren’t completely solid.

When we were kids we’d ride our bikes all over the neighborhood. It was a breeze. Even though they say you never forget how to ride a bike BOY is it a trick to get the balance, confidence, and control back when you haven’t hopped on one for years.

What does this have to do with summer reading tips? Read on and you’ll see the connection.

My dear sweet mother-in-law has a lovely little summer home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. When Joe and I visit, I love to hop on the bikes and explore the quaint little town. It wasn’t like that the first few times we visited.

I was nervous to hop back on the bike. My muscles knew how to ride the bike, but the pathways to tell my brain, “We’ve got this!” were super rusty. My husband was a little nervous for me too. Although the cars don’t drive through quickly it made me even shakier when they were coming by and I had to hug the curb on my wobbly bike.

We DO NOT want reading to become a rusty habit or skill. No wobbly readers and no nervous mamas wondering if their kiddos will keep up.

Summer is the perfect time to help your child catch up, keep going, and go farther in reading. Summer reading is just the thing to keep their reading fresh and front of mind.

With these summer reading tips you can help your child keep the rust off their reading skills.

Here are 5 Tips for Summer Reading

Summer Reading Tip #1

Go to the library weekly

Yes! Good old-fashioned paper books. The children’s area of the public libraries is always so well kept! The librarians display the books so that children will be enticed to touch them, pick them up, and fall deeply into the pages.

I am so glad that the libraries in my area have opened back up and are allowing for in-person browsing. It’s so different to pick up a book and feel it in my hands. I love looking at the back cover and the summaries inside the front sleeve. I know I shouldn’t but more times than not I choose a book by the cover.

Here’s the tip for your kiddos: Let your child choose the books!

Any books!

All the books!

Let them pick!

Picking their own book will give them ownership over their reading, allowing them to choose the books that make sense to them to read. If all they want are joke books, go for it!

Reading is reading. In this case, we’re going to go for quantity over quality.

The goal is to keep them reading and practicing their decoding skills. During the school year, they will be introduced to quality books from great authors with amazing plots. Right now the focus is to just continue reading.

Make going to the library a weekly trip. This will allow your child to change out their books. Get rid of the duds, and replace them with whatever books and topics suit their interest this week. You know they’re not interested in the same thing day today. Heck, sometimes I’m not either.

Summer Reading Tip #2

Abandoning Books is OK

I know...perseverance...tenacity...building character and stamina.

Now’s not the time.

Right now your main goal is to get your child excited about reading and keeping their reading stamina. I don’t know about you but when I pick up a book that I don’t like I give it 3 chapters then, if I’m not into it, away it goes.

Life is too short to keep reading books we don’t like.

It should be the same for your child. Let them read the books they want to read. Let them enjoy the books they want to enjoy. And if they decide it’s not for them...let them abandon the book.

There are so many good books out there; books written just for your child’s interests. Guide them to finding those books and give them the freedom to choose if they like to book or not.

Summer Reading Tip #3

Choose a family read-aloud

Read-alouds were my absolute favorite part of the day when I taught 3rd grade. It wasn’t necessarily a part of the curriculum OR my schedule, but I learned how to sneak them in. And you know what happened to my students….

They started WANTING to read more books.

Suddenly the book I was reading was in as many hands as the library had copies. I’d let them read ahead ONLY if they promised not to spoil it for the kids who were listening along.

Reading aloud builds listening comprehension, a huge 21st-century skill.

Kids need to be able to listen and comprehend. Listen and take in a story. Listen with understanding.

Not sure where to begin with a family read-aloud?

Think of the classics - Charlott’s Web, Stuart Little, James, and the Giant Peach

Think of genres that interest your family, fantasy, sci-fi, realistic fiction

Then go talk to your local librarian. They will lead you in the right direction to choose the books that will be perfect for your family to try.

Summer Reading Tip #4

Read Every Day

This is hard even for me. Someone passionate about reading and getting as many children to become confident readers as humanly possible. I still struggle with reading every day.

Here’s what I do to make sure I’m reading.

Set a timer for 20 minutes and just read.

This is where stamina comes into play. A few years back it was a BIG deal to build reading stamina in elementary classrooms. Teachers would set stopwatches with goals for all children to silently read hoping to grow their on-task reading time day-to-day.

You can do the same with your child. Set a stopwatch and get to reading. Then track the time. You can even graph their growth. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing how far you've come.

Here are some general goals based on grade level. Keep in mind, all children are different.

Kindergarten-Early 1st grade 5 minutes - 10 minutes

1st Grade 10 minutes - 15 minutes

2nd Grade 15 minutes - 20 minutes

3rd and 4th Grade 20 minutes - 30 minutes

5th Grade 30 minutes - 40 minutes

Not only will building this stamina and habit over the summer help your child when fall comes and they get their 20 minutes of reading homework assignments. It will also help your child to become an independent and voracious reader.

Think of how many books they will finish as they reach their reading stamina goals.

Choose a comfy spot

Lately, that’s been the basement couch. When the weather is less muggy I’m planning on making great use of our patio furniture.

Children like a comfy reading space too. Transform a corner of their bedroom or just cuddle up together on the couch and read side by side.

Make a spot that is their reading spot and it will come more naturally to read when they’re in that spot.

Make sure there are books aplenty

I have at least 3 books going at a time. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood for one and want to read the other. Other times I start one book and it becomes the book that I just need to abandon.

The same goes for your child. When you bring home that library haul, put all the books into your child’s reading area right away. Then they will be able to stay in one spot while they read and have everything they need.

If one book is not what they thought it would be they can still keep their reading stamina by switching to a different book. No time wasted by finding the other books or getting distracted while looking for their other books.

All the books they need are right there next to them.

Model being a reader

If you want your child to be a reader you need to model being a reader. Let them see you reading books for leisure and model reading as a hobby.

You are their biggest example and will be their greatest guidepost in all ventures of life, including their reading life.

Don’t let your child be the only one setting reading stamina goals. Set some for yourself and share them with your child. Maybe your only goal is to read for 20 minutes a day. Do that. Or maybe you like to read a chapter a day in your book. Do that and share your progress with your child. Let them know that you’re being a reader alongside them.

Summer Reading Tip #5

Join a local or digital bookclub

There are books clubs out there for children. Some meet in person. Some meet on zoom. Some don’t even meet but offer a monthly subscription with activities for your child along with a suggested book.

You can even create your own book club with a group of friends. Take turns choosing the books and create simple activities that your children can do together as culminating events.

A quick google search of “book clubs for children” brings up 2.9 million results.

Why should you find or create a book club for your child?

Book clubs give your child a deadline for completing a book. This gives you some leverage when encouraging them to read more.

Book clubs also provide a social outlet to talk about what they have read. This is how they will continue to build reading comprehension skills and social skills.

Lastly joining a book club allows you to outsource the reading. Let the book club leader choose. You can now play good cop when encouraging your child to read. “You have to read this book for Ms. Adelle so that you won’t be behind,” is a much easier sell than, “You need to read this book because it’s time to read and that is the book you’re reading.”

If you are looking to outsource summer reading schedules and book choices for your child I am always here to help. You can sign up for a free reading assessment or a tutoring consultation HERE.

If you’d like more tips on how to keep your child reading please subscribe to my email list HERE.

Happy reading!

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