Reading: It’s Not Just for the School Year
I’ve mentioned before how reading is important to us. In fact, I’d venture to guess it’s important to most families. But how do you keep your kids reading outside of the school year?
Well, sometimes you just have to make them do it.
We give our boys some extra incentive with a little bit of help from the public library. We’ve been regular participants in the annual Summer Reading Program for years – since way before Seahawk could read. Some years we use only the library’s prizes as motivation and some years we add extra stuff. We haven’t decided yet for this year. We’ll probably use just library prizes – there were quite a few good ones included in the sign up packet, which we’ll distribute as the boys reach milestones. These include a trip to the zoo, a dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory (one of our favorite restaurants), and a free ticket to a basketball game of the local NBA team. In addition to these signup bonuses, the library has more prizes that kids can earn for reading 20 minutes or more per day for a certain number of days (this year, the guaranteed prizes are at 20, 50, & 70 days). I think those, along with me telling them that reading daily isn’t optional, should be motivation enough.
Going through the library isn’t the only option for children’s summer reading programs, either. I know that the prize I mentioned above from The Old Spaghetti Factory isn’t just through our local library; they work with several libraries, so find out if yours is one. It’s not too hard for the kids to earn their prize, either. When they’ve finished 5 books, they get a free meal (with the purchase of an adult meal). Pottery Barn has a summer reading program too, but I’m not sure of the details.
So that covers incentive, which is especially important for children who don’t love reading. And honestly, it doesn’t hurt to help motivate kids who do like reading, too.
What about what to read? Well, like prizes, we’ve done different things over the years. When the boys were young, we read to them or picked up audio books from the library. As they grew, we did some of us reading, some of them reading. About 3 years ago, we made the full transition to them reading. We still read to them, but for summer reading to “count,” the reading has to be done by them. (This is our rule, not the library’s.) What do they read? Well, we’re stricter than the library on this, too. We require our children to read chapter books, at least one chapter a day. Fiction or nonfiction doesn’t necessarily matter to us. This year we’ll do a combination of assigned reading and their choice. The library gifted each child who signed up with a book, so those are the first kids’ choice books of the summer. Munchkin chose The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, and Seahawk chose Brian’s Winter by Gary Paulsen (although, he hasn’t read Hatchet, so he’s working on that, and Brian’s Winter will immediately follow). As soon as they finish those, they’ll have assigned books: The Cay for Seahawk and The Sign of the Beaver for Munchkin. We’re also reading the Little House series as a family right now.
What does summer reading look like in your home?
Lots of other bloggers are exploring the topic of Summer Reading for Elementary Students. Make sure to check them out! (You can do so simply by clicking the banner below, anytime on or after Wednesday, June 11, 2014.)