With the summer holiday stretching out ahead, undoubtedly your child’s thoughts will turn to bike riding, summer holidays and endless hours on the PlayStation. Yet there is no better time to encourage your children to settle down with a good book. However, this often more easily said than done!
Why you should encourage reading over the summer
The summer holiday is a long time to go without learning, but reading can help. Not only is it critical to a child’s ability to retain information from the previous year, but also to grow in knowledge ready for the academic year ahead. If you don’t read, literacy skills can be lost fast. During the summer this can often be referred to as ‘the summer slide’, as those hard-earned reading skills begin to decline. Those that keep the rust off their reading won’t suffer from this summer reading drop, and may even manage to improve on their skills.
Just like exercising regularly will help keep your body in shape, reading regularly can help to keep your mind in shape. In general, reading is very effective when it comes to building up a child’s knowledge in a vast array of subject areas that go far beyond literacy. For a start, it is a strong tool for building up a general knowledge of the world.
How can summer reading be encouraged?
Suggesting reading during the summer is one thing, but getting your child to sit down with book is another. Here are some great ways to encourage summer reading.
Create a reading challenge
Children love a challenge, especially if there is a reward at the end of it. Some libraries run free reading challenges themselves which come with a log book and prizes. If you don’t have a local library that provides this, there is nothing stopping you setting something up yourself with little treats when reading milestones are hit.
Make it fun
Instead of a chore, make regular reading an exciting time for children. Try making heading to the library to choose some new books into a day trip, and let your children pick the books that interest them to take home.
Read with your child
Children love spending time with their parents, and there is no better motivation to pull out a good book than if mum and dad are going to read with you. Take it in turns to read a chapter, or simply listen to them read to you.
Base other activities around a book
In order to encourage interest in particular books, why not couple the theme of the story with trips out, film nights or crafts? Is your child reading a book about dinosaurs? Take them to a museum, watch a documentary and draw pictures of dinosaurs. Winnie-the-Pooh? Take a trip down to the forest and play a game of Pooh sticks accompanied by some honey sandwiches. Small things like this can help instil a love of reading in a child.
Location, location, location
Sometimes where you read makes a big difference when it comes to wanting to read. Why not experiment with making a little reading nook or corner in your home to make reading that bit more exciting and cosy? Fill it up with blanket, twinkle lights and pillow. Or, for something even more exciting, you could help your children create a reading den.
Schedule daily reading times
At first when you schedule daily reading times, your child may be a little resistant. It won’t be long, however, before your child will begin to look forward to this time. A little bit of structure in the day can help children get into a routine.
Encourage book clubbing
It is not just adults that can attend a book club. There is nothing stopping the younger generation reading a good book together. Social reading can help make the activity more fun and less lonely. Encourage your children and their friends to read the same book as each other so that when they get together, they have something to talk about.
‘Out of the box’ texts
Reading over the summer doesn’t have to stop at books. You could also try to encourage your children to read other types of text, such as a the menu when you are out for dinner, the map at the zoo or the instructions to a new toy.