A summer reading plan is so important that I made this topic separate from Summer Learning. Of course ideally reading is a year-round activity, but summer offers a great opportunity to get into a reading habit or accomplish new reading goals.
How you set your reading goals for the summer should be dependent on your child and what they need the most. If you have a kid who isn’t much of a reader, summer is a time to learn to love reading. I highly recommend doing the work to find the right books for your kids. It can be time consuming, but it’s totally worth the effort.
How to find the right books for your kids:
- Let them read whatever they want. Never turn off a reluctant reader by telling them they’re not reading the right things. My kids’ kindergarten teacher loved to say that ALL reading counts – even comic books – and summer is the time to encourage any reading that a reluctant reader wants to do. There are also some great comic-based books available that have gotten many a reluctant reader going! (see some examples on this list).
- Start with something they like. If there is a book they enjoyed, find out why they enjoyed it, and give them similar books to try. Sometimes that’s as easy as more books by the same author. My oldest, however, was VERY PICKY. Even if he liked one book, we would sometimes completely reject the next 10 similar books I got for him. After asking him a ton of questions about what he liked about that one book, I learned that the book had to be written in the 1st person, it had to grab his attention with action on the first page (no long descriptions allowed), and it had to make him laugh on the first page. Those were pretty strict requirements, but once I learned what would get his interest, it was easier for me to find books for him. Thank goodness for Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature so I could read that first page myself.
- Use Amazon to find similar books. Although we try to use the library as much as possible and not buy books, Amazon is a great way to research books my kids will enjoy. I search for a book they really liked, and then check out the list of other books customers who bought this book also bought. With Amazon’s descriptions, the “Look Inside” feature, the reviews, and their age recommendations, I find Amazon to be the best tool for finding new reading material for my kids. I get the recommendations from Amazon and the borrow the books from the local library.
- Use google to search for books like one your child likes. There are lots of parents and bloggers out there who are working on this same problem, so if there is a book your kid loves, trying searching for “What to read if my kid loves Harry Potter”. To that end, I also created a blog post with recommendations based on the books my kids have loved. If your kids have similar tastes to my kids, there are some great recommendations on this list: If your kid loved one of these books…
- Try finding books by topic. If your child has never found a book that they actually liked, try looking for a topic they love. If they love sports, use google to search for “best books for kids about sports”. There are some great ones out there. If they love animals, search for “best books for kids about animals”. My oldest son (the picky one) went through a phase where he was interested in the outdoors and survival. I found a surprising number of good books for him on that topic by searching for recommendations.
- Load up your shelves. Join the library, and keep a large selection of books on the shelf for them. That way, no matter what mood they’re in, or how many books they reject, they’ll probably find something that appeals.
Set Summer Reading Goals
The most important thing to do over the summer is set aside time for reading. Make it a whole family event and you’ll find it even more successful! Most libraries have a summer reading program that comes with a prize, and I highly recommend you sign your kids up for your local program. It’s a great way to encourage your child read during the summer months.
Most library programs count the number of minutes, or pages, or books. These are all great ways to encourage kids to read. But if you’re looking for something a little different, try one of these summer reading checklists I created with The Trip Clip.
The first list is the one I plan to use with my kids this summer. After some very picky years, my kids (10 & 13) are both big readers now, which is awesome. But they do tend to get stuck in a few genres, so my goal this summer is to get them to read things outside of their comfort zones.
I’m already getting some resistance from them on this, but the techniques I described above to find good reading material work here as well. I wanted to get my 13-year-old reading more non-fiction, so I searched for ‘best non-fiction books for teens’, and researched some of the books on the list. My son had trouble putting down the first book we tried called BOMB about the creation of the atomic bomb. Now I’ve put a bunch more non-fiction books on hold at the library by the same author.
Another idea is to try to make reading time more fun than just counting the minutes. With that in mind, I created a somewhat silly goal chart to use as a summer reading goal:
You can use the Custom Checklist at TheTripClip.com to create your own checklist that’s just right for your kids.