5 Wily Ways to Encourage Summer Reading

Although summer is nearing the halfway mark, there is still time to engage your vacationing cherubs to get on board and indulge in a good read.

Cheryl Butler
3-minute read

We as parents all know the drill: try our darndest to keep our kids reading throughout the summer so when they hit the books again in the fall, they still have momentum. Momentum is everything when it comes to kids and reading. 

In Why Summer Reading Pays Off Year-Round, Laurie Calvert, a teacher who is working as the Director of Teacher Outreach at the US Department of Education, emphasizes that the "summer slide"—the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year—can be avoided by ensuring that children are both as engaged as possible in whatever they choose to read and read consistently.

Keeping our kids, particularly our tweens and teens, reading all summer long is easier said than done. Though we all have good intentions to keep the pages turning during the lazy, hazy days of summer, there are many families who scramble to achieve this when late August graces our calendar.

Although summer is nearing the halfway mark, there is still time to engage your vacationing cherubs to get on board and indulge in a good read. Here are 5 ways you can encourage some serious summer reading before those school bells begin to ring next month.

5 Ways to Encourage Summer Reading

1. Let Your Kids Read to You.

A fun way to mix it up with summer reading (and all year long) is to let your kids read to you. One idea is to create a list of your favorite childhood stories and share these with your kids. Give them brief descriptions of favorite classics such as Charlotte’s Web, Anne of Green Gables, or The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Have your child read the stories aloud to you and then discuss whether the book will become one of her favorites and why.

2. Write a Story Together.

Sometimes it’s a lot more fun to read something you’ve written yourself. Create your own characters and a crazy plot and have at it. You can add photos or graphic design images to your story. Penning a summer story is a great way to reinforce the five Ws of storytelling, which are usually used in school reports. Write a story together every school year and summer so you will have a special keepsake—and a great record of how your child’s writing has improved since the previous year. Get the book published at the end of the summer and continue the tradition right through until they graduate high school or head off to college.

3. Research the Summer Reading List.

The ALSC, Association for Library Service to Children, is a wonderful resource for not only summer reading suggestions but for engaging your child in the fantastic world of books all year long. Each year, the ALSC compiles an exciting list of suggested summer reads for Birth-Preschool and grades K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. Now that August is about to heat up, chill out with your child as you sit down together, over an ice cream sundae perhaps, and peruse this year’s list. Discuss the titles and why they might make an interesting choice. Now head over to your local library and check them out. It’s fun for parents to read these titles as well—a great way to stay on the same page together!

4. Create a Reading/Movie Weekend.

There are many popular, published titles that are not only in print but have also been made into bestselling movies. List out some ideas such as the Harry Potter series or The Diary of a Wimpy Kid and pick a weekend where you and your child can read the book then kick back and watch the movie. And don’t forget the popcorn!

5. Check Out Goodreads Teen Reading List.

High Schoolers leave the classroom in June knowing that they have to fulfill their summer reading list before stepping back through those same doors in September. Often, the required reads hold absolutely no interest to them and the entire summer reading experience is painful and dreary. Suggest that your teen take a look at the popular list available on Goodreads. Here they just might find a title that piques their interest and keeps them reading all year long.

For more ideas, visit the Mighty Mommy page at Quick and Dirty Tips.

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.