How to Encourage Summer Reading

Get your kids to read this summer with these 6 tips.

Summer reading for kids is an essential part of my work-at-home summer vacation plan. I firmly believe that reading during the summer has huge benefits--and not just for the kids. Summer reading keeps kids’ minds active, and an active mind keeps away boredom--the enemy of every work-at-home mom. And a good book is one of the best defenses against too much screen time. In fact, I had my kids independently "reading" with the help of wordless books and audio books before they could...MORE technically read.

But encouraging summer reading for kids is not easy sometimes. If your child is a reluctant reader then you could end up nagging him to pick up a book the whole summer through, and that would defeat the purpose. So don't nag; try these ideas to get your kids reading this summer instead.

  • 01 of 06

    Join a summer reading program.

    Girl reading a book
    Isabel Pavia/Moment/Getty Images

    I bet your local library has a summer reading program. Sign up! If not (or in addition), try these summer reading programs and contests and win free stuff from Barnes & Noble, Borders, Chuck E. Cheese and others. Reading is somewhat of a solitary pursuit (although parent-child reading together is encouraged when mom isn't working), so a summer reading program can make it more social or even competitive.

  • 02 of 06

    Make your own summer reading challenge.

    A little competition among friends or siblings can go a long way to inspire summer reading. Our family created our own summer reading challenge and read more than 4,000 pages last summer. My most reluctant reader would check on everyone else's summer reading progress and read more to stay ahead. Read how to set up your own summer reading program.

  • 03 of 06

    Set a good example.

    This  year our local library has a summer reading program for adults too. Every book mom or dad reads gets an entry into a drawing for local gift certificates! But even without that incentive, parents may find that reading is as rewarding for them as for the kids. Not only is it a great way to unwind and learn something, it sets a great example. If kids see you reading in your spare time, they may just join you. And once they are into a book, it's easier to get them to read while you are...MORE working.

  • 04 of 06

    Start a summer book club.

    Parents setting an example for reading is great, but there's nothing like kids' own peers to really inspire them to read. So maybe try a book club for kids so they can discuss their favorite books with friends. Again this makes reading a more social, and less solitary, pastime, If you can't find one then start a book club for kids yourself.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Let them choose their own reading material.

    It is tempting to try to talk your son or daugher into reading your favorite book from childhood, but if it takes a lot of convincing, give it up. There is nothing as off-putting for budding readers as being forced to read something they are not interested in. And if there is summer homework, likely they already have some required summer reading. Don't add unnecessarily to the workload.

    Now that said, kids may need some help choosing books. Encourage them to talk to friends or the librarian...MORE about books they might like. Take them to the library and pull out several choices that line up with their interests. But don't push any of them.

    Need some ideas?


  • 06 of 06

    Think outside the hardback.

    If kids are choosing their own reading,  then likely you are already thinking outside the hardback. Graphic novels, magazines, comic books and wordless storybooks all appeal to kids. But remember some kids may also  benefit from a different medium than ink on paper. If that's the case, try audiobooks or an e-reader.