Looking for ways to get your kids’ reading over summer break? We’ve got 12 smart ideas to motivate and encourage them to pick up a book, including a free printable Summer Reading Kit that will provide the ultimate incentive…rewards!
Summer means plenty of free time for your kids to explore, be creative and use their imaginations, but usually doesn’t include the same structured learning, which can often result in the dreaded “Summer Slide”.
One of the easiest ways to stop your kids from losing their school-year achievements is to make sure they keep up with their reading while on break.
But easier said than done, right?
To help with this mission, we’re providing you with 12 smart tips that will help motivate your kids to read this summer, including our exclusive free printable “Summer Reading Kit” which is jam-packed with incentives (reward tokens and coupons), a reading log, challenge check-list, and creative projects.
By using the right tools and setting the right environment, we’re confident that even the most reluctant reader will be clamoring to pick up a book this summer (and yes, put down that tablet!).
PIN for when you want to encourage your kids to read
1.) LET YOUR CHILD PICK THEIR OWN BOOKS (WITH ONE CAVEAT…)
This is one of the most crucial steps to getting your kids to read – you must let them drive the ship when it comes to selecting their books. We suggest taking them to the library or bookstore and giving them free reign to choose what looks appealing to them. Don’t turn your nose up if what they pick isn’t your typical story – non-fiction books on animals, countries or sports can be fun to read (and educational) while graphic comic-book style novels are great for reluctant readers who crave more visual storytelling. If it has words that they can read, let them at it!
One caveat to this, of course, is to make sure that what they select is at their “just right” independent reading level. The fastest way to kill off a child’s desire to read is for them to try and read a book that is too difficult, and become frustrated.
Have your child do the “Five Finger” test to make sure their selections are at the appropriate level: have them open the book and read any page. For each word they encounter that they don’t know, they raise a finger. If they have raised more than 5 fingers at the end of the page, the book is likely too difficult.
In addition to any lists your school provides, libraries often have reading lists for different reading levels that can act as a guide as well.
2.) MAKE A COMFORTABLE READING SPOT
Work with your kids to create a special reading spot where they can go to get comfortable and curl up with their reading material. This could be a cozy corner of their bedroom filled with pillows, or a secret hideout “fort”.
Wherever it may be, just make sure it’s somewhere that’s really inviting – if they’re on the floor, having carpet or a rug can give them that warmth and comfort they need to stick it out for the long-haul.
3.) MAKE A CONSISTENT SCHEDULE/TIME FOR READING
We know from experience that having a schedule in the summer can be difficult, but setting aside time every day for reading is something that shouldn’t fall between the cracks. Try and get them into a routine of reading at a time that won’t be disrupted by summertime fun – mornings are great because kids are still fresh and not tired from a day of playing outside.
If need be, get creative and have reading time be a prerequisite before they can watch any sort of screen (you can even change your wifi password each day and not release it until reading and chores have been completed!).
4.) ALWAYS HAVE BOOKS ACCESSIBLE
Wherever you go this summer – whether it’s a short trip to the grocery store, or a long road trip cross country – make sure you have reading material close at hand. Keep magazines or books in the car for them to reach for when they get bored, or stash an e-reader in your bag for whenever a “waiting” moment presents itself, like at the doctor’s office or a restaurant.
5.) START A SUMMER BOOK CLUB
Encourage your kids to start their very own Book Club with a friend or two. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy – all they need to do is decide what book they’ll all read. You can host a playdate where they can eat snacks and talk about their favorite/least favorite parts. They’ll feel connected to their friends, and have a good reason to finish the book.
6.) PROVIDE INCENTIVES
Some kids need a little more incentive to pick up a book than others, so we created a Free Printable “Summer Reading Kit” to help make it easy this summer.
This printable is 12 pages of fun and encouragement and includes:
Goals Page: working with your kids to set reading goals at the beginning of the summer can be a powerful tool to ignite their fire, and help provide some accountability. They’ll decide how many books they’d like to read, how many minutes they plan on reading each day, list some books they’d like to read, and what special thing they’d like to do if they reach their goal.
Reading Rewards/Tokens: Who doesn’t like to be rewarded for a job well done? The reading rewards are designed to congratulate your child when they finish a certain number of books (or pages). They will earn reward tokens that they can then redeem for rewards.
First, discuss with your child what they need to do to receive a reward token and fill it in on page 3. Brainstorm with them some things or experiences they can earn with the reward tokens.
We have provided blank coupons for you to fill-in with some of these ideas, but also have coupons which have popular, kid-approved rewards pre-printed (like “Dessert of your choice” or “Stay up 30 minutes past bedtime”) that you can use.
For each reward coupon you will have to decide how many tokens they need to redeem. You can make the larger rewards worth more tokens so your child really has to work hard to earn it.
Display the coupons where your kids can see them so they always have a reminder to pick up some reading material. We clipped them to a fun string and hung it from our kids’ bedroom door, but you could pin them to a bulletin board or tape them to your refrigerator.
We’ve even provided you with a tag to attach to a jar or container that your child can use to keep their reward tokens safe.
My Summer Reading Challenge: Kids can earn extra rewards by checking off a certain number (you decide) of boxes on the Reading Challenge page.
This prompts kids to read in different places (“in a fort”, “under the covers”, or “at the beach”) and at various occasions (“on a Wednesday” or “as soon as you wake up”), plus How to Read (“without being asked” or “lying on your belly”), and What To Read (“read a book that has a title that rhymes”, or “read a book about a holiday”).
Books I’ve Read This Summer: After your child finishes a book, they can record it on this chart, listing the Title, Author and giving it an emoji face rating. They’ll find it so satisfying as this page fills up…they’ll want to keep reading more and more!
Create a New Book Cover: Your kids will love creating their very own book cover and can even earn extra tokens for their creativity.
Book Report: This Book Report outline will have keep your kids’ writing skills sharp over the summer as well. For each book they finish they can fill-in the prompts to earn additional reward tokens.
Summer Reading Bookmarks: The different sections of these 2 fun bookmarks can be colored in for each book your child finishes. Challenge them to color the whole popsicle or rainbow by the end of the summer.
This printable Summer Reading Kit is completely free for What Moms Love readers – all you need to do is fill-in your email in the form below and we’ll send you the PDF straight to your inbox:
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7. MIX IT UP
Your child doesn’t have to have their nose in a novel to be keeping up with their reading. If they’re more drawn to magazines, comic books or even joke books, that’s A-OK. Even reading the back of a cereal box or your shopping list will be giving their brains a workout.
Get creative and throw on a movie with the Closed Captioning on – they’ll naturally read the words, even with the sound playing.
Have them read the kids’ menu to you at a restaurant.
Play a new board game and ask them to read the instructions, or the directions on the board/cards (LIFE is a good one for this).
You can even play games in the car that require them to look at words and read them out loud (for instance, the ABC game where you have to find words that start with each letter in the alphabet in order from A to Z).
Reading opportunities surround us every day – take note and seize them!
8. GO HOLLYWOOD
Find a movie your child will be interested in watching that is adapted from a book. Have them read the book first, then watch the movie version. Discuss with them which one they liked better, what details were left out of the movie, or how they differed. This is a fun idea for the Summer Book Club as the friends can then get together to view the movie and debate together.
A few suggestions include “Harry Potter”, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, “Wonder”, “A Wrinkle in Time”, “Matilda”, “Chronicles of Narnia”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, and “Ferdinand”.
9. TURN BOOKS INTO THEATER
Task your kids to put on a play where they can act out a book (either the whole story or a small portion). Kids love to perform and can deeper their connection with the characters and storyline by becoming part of it. Alternatively, they could perform an excerpt from the book using different voices, props and actions.
One of our favorite early reader books to perform are the Piggie and Elephant books by Mo Williems – have your child chose their favorite character (Piggie or Gerald), and you be the other. They are super fun to act out as your kids can mimic the actions of the pictures while reading the simple text.
10. GET HOOKED ON A SERIES
Show your child the first book of several different book series and see if they’d be interested in reading it. If they get hooked on book #1, there will be many more for them to devour. A series provides kids with familiar characters who they become invested in, and get excited to find out more about their adventures.
If your child needs a little help getting started, you can even read the first book together. Hopefully they’ll be so enthralled with the story that they’ll want to find out what happens in the next book…and the next…and the next…
11. SET A GOOD EXAMPLE
We can’t stress how important it is for parents to be good role models for their kids when it comes to reading. When kids see their parents reading, they are more likely to pick up a book as well. So whether it’s sitting with a newspaper over your morning coffee, reading at the beach, or calling a Family Reading Break, you’ll be showing them that you love reading too.
12. READ ALOUD TO YOUR KIDS
And finally, don’t stop reading to your kids. Even if they’re at a fully independent reading level, it is still extremely beneficial for them to listen to you read. They can be exposed to more difficult books that can help build their vocabulary, and it’s a fun thing for them to listen and get wrapped up in the story. And the more positive experiences they can have with reading, the better attitude they will have towards it as a whole.
To download our free printable Summer Reading Kit, enter your email address in the box below and it will be sent directly to your inbox for you to print.
Where should we send your printable Summer Reading Kit?
You'll get the link to download instantly.