A Parent’s Guide to Summer Reading Programs

According to the U.S. Department of Education, children who don’t read during the summer can lose up to 3 months of reading progress. As a result, it’s critical that we keep our kids engaged during the vacation period.

Here are some tips to help guide your child’s summer reading enjoyment:

Find Books Based Upon Topics that Your Child Likes

Reading Should Be a Fun, Engaging Activity
Reading Should Be a Fun, Engaging Activity

According to the National Summer Learning Association (.pdf), kids want to read books that align to their interests. Just as adults have preferences with our music, movies, and books, our children also want stories that feature relatable characters, settings, and storylines.

Engage All of Your Child’s Senses

Take your child into environments which reinforce the book’s storyline. Is the story about future space travel? Then consider a trip to the local Air & Space Museum. A 20th-century kidnapping? Then how about using a fingerprint kit to retrace the investigation techniques. Think of nearby parks & venues to stimulate the senses: Aquariums, botanical gardens, lakes, bike rides, swimming pools, star gazing…be creative and be active.

Talk About the Story

Ask questions that get your child to analyze and deconstruct the story and its characters. Encourage critical thinking in fun, low-pressure environments. For example, if you’re grocery shopping with your child you can ask, “If we could invite [the story’s character] to dinner tonight, what do you think she’d want to eat? Why?” This invites your child to think of the character’s motivations, wants, and dislikes…all of which are important to discern when consuming stories.

PBS Summer Reading Program for Kids
PBS Summer Reading Program for Kids

Participate in a Reading Program

Just as you enjoy the guidance of a personal trainer at the gym or running buddy for those morning jogs, kids also appreciate the structure of a formal reading program. One of our favorites is the 10-week PBS KIDS summer learning initiative. In an effort to help kids continue building key literacy skills throughout summer vacation, PBS KIDS has developed the SUPER WHY! Around the World Adventure. Your child can join the show’s “super readers” as they use their literacy powers to solve puzzles, mysteries, and secret codes.

Remember, reading should be fun and exciting. Find environments which encourage your child to view books and storytelling as a comforting, social activity. And if you have any other tips, we’d love to hear them!