Getting your kids to read during the summer is not only important, but it can also be really fun! Here are some tips for setting up a summer reading program in your home that your kids will love.

Getting your kids to read during the summer is not only important, but it can also be really fun! Here are some tips for setting up a summer reading program in your home that your kids will love.

Getting kids to read during the school year is tough, but getting them to read over the summer? Yikes!

I don’t know about your kids, but when summer comes along my son suddenly thinks he shouldn’t have any responsibilities–including reading. So I have to really focus on how to make daily reading fun for him!

There are various programs out there that do summer reading (local libraries, bookstores, etc.) and those are fun, but I like to create my own so I can have a hand in all the details and choose what’s best for my kids and our family. (Any other Type A personalities around here?🤷)

Here are 6 steps to coming up with a summer reading program for your family:

1. Figure Out the Why

The first step to coming up with a summer reading program for your kids is to determine your why. This might be different for each kid. In fact, it should be a little different for each kid.

For my seven-year-old, my why is that I want him to keep up his reading skills between grades and to keep developing that love of reading that’s finally starting to make its appearance. For my three-year-old (who can’t read on her own yet), I want her to keep the love of books she has so that in a year or so, she wants to start reading on her own and that reading will come more naturally for her because she spent so much time in books as a preschooler.

You don’t necessarily need to tell your kids the why (it might make them upset!), but it’s good to keep in your mind. That way, when the battles start and you want to give in to letting them watch a show before they’ve done their reading, you remember the purpose behind the system and can stay strong.

2. Decide on the Details

Look over the questions below and decide on the details that work best for your family. Once again, these answers might be a little bit different for each kid.

  • How much should they read each day?
  • How should you track it (books, pages, minutes)?
  • When will they read?
  • How will you keep track (app, printed chart, whiteboard, etc.)?
  • Are they reading alone, with you, to you? Or are you reading to them?
  • Does reading need to be done before they can do something else (have tech time, play with friends, go swimming, etc.)?
  • Do you want them to do anything else with the reading (keep a book journal, tell you about the book, draw a picture about it, etc.)?

Here are my examples:

Three-year-old: Read at least 3 books per day with me/brother/dad. Reading must be done in order to have any tech time (which for us is only tv) or to play with friends. And I’ll encourage her to draw a picture about the books she reads, but it’s not mandatory in any way–just a fun little book activity to do if she wants.

Seven-year-old: Read at least 15 minutes per day, whenever he wants, but it must be done in order to have tech time or play with friends. I’ll talk with him about what he reads, but this isn’t mandatory either.

3. Choose a Reward System

You don’t have to have a reward system, but I think it makes it fun! And if you have reluctant readers, it can be a great incentive to get them to want to read. And once they realize reading can be fun (and not just something they have to do for homework), the reading bug might just bite them and they won’t be able to put books down! 🙌

  • Will you have a daily reward? Weekly? Once they hit a certain amount of books/pages/time? A combo of these?
  • What will the rewards be?
  • Can they choose from a list of rewards or is it a set reward?
  • Will you have extra rewards if they do more, like a short book report, a book journal, etc.?

Daily Ideas:

  • Sticker
  • M&M (or other small candy)
  • TV time
  • Stay up an extra 10 minutes

Weekly Ideas:

  • Stay up late and watch a movie on Saturday night
  • Donuts for breakfast on Saturday
  • Choose a toy from the dollar store
  • Extra tech time on the weekend
  • Earn $1

Bigger Ideas for Hitting Reading Goals:

  • Have a friend over
  • Go to a fun place (trampoline park, waterpark, etc.)
  • Buy a new book
  • Get a treat

4. Lead by Example

Set-up a summer reading program for yourself too and track it right alongside your kids! Show your kids that reading is fun and that you like to do it, too. We can’t expect our kids to gain a love of reading if we don’t show them our own–or at least our best efforts at gaining one. If your kids see you participating as well, they’re less likely to complain or put up a fight about it.

5. Make it Fun

Add little fun touches to your summer reading program. Maybe have a time set aside each week where the whole family reads together while eating a yummy snack. Or set up a special reading nook, like a fort or a bed of pillows and blankets on the floor. Snuggle up together and read! Or let your kids stay up an extra 10 minutes every night (or on the weekends) by reading together as a family in Mom and Dad’s bed. Find a way to make reading extra special!

6. Talk with Your Kids

Tell your kids all about the new system. You can involve them in the planning process as well, which is a great way to help get them on board with the system. But make sure they know going into it that you have the final decision, but that you want their input.

Be excited when you explain the system. Talk about how fun it’s going to be. You can even make the Summer Reading Program reveal a fun event in and of itself. Make a special dinner or take the family out to eat at your favorite restaurant and bring it up then. The happier your kids are when you reveal the Summer Reading Program, the more excited about it they’ll be.

How do you handle reading in the summer?

If you liked this post, check out the other posts in the Perfectly Imperfect Summer Series:

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2 Comments on "Perfectly Imperfect Summer Series: Encouraging Summer Reading"

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Michelle Stimpson
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I do it a little differently every summer, but some of the things that have stayed consistent are:
1. I let them choose what they read and when they read.
2. We go to the library at least weekly.
3. I reward with new books.

This year, my 12 yo and 10 yo and I are going to try having a book club. Our first pick is “Hidden Figures: Young Reader’s Edition.” When we finish the book, we’re going to the planetarium on a field trip. I’m so excited!