Last week I shared The Ultimate Summer Reading Bucket List where I talked about creating a reading routine for my son, who is a rising 2nd grader, and provided a list of books to add to your library. This week, I wanted to share a little more about how to develop the habit of reading regularly in your kids. (Please note, we earn commissions if you shop through the links below, see our disclosures policy for more details).
Creating a reading routine is so important for children and adults. There are so many benefits to reading regularly at home including, increasing your vocabulary, improving your writing skills, and enhancing your imagination. These are all critical skills for your child as they move through their academic career and develop a passion for reading.
Here are five strategies that will help you create a dynamic and fun reading routine that your family is more likely to stick with this summer:
Set a goal - this might sound simple, but it is a critical first step in building a daily reading routine. Sit down with your child and write down the goal. You can choose to make a weekly goal or an overarching summer reading goal, but either way make sure to record it. Check out this FREE reading habit tracker below that can help with recording your reading goals. You can also use something as simple as a post-it note with tic marks that you stick to the fridge, as a daily reminder of your child's progress toward the goal. Goal setting is a powerful tool and the earlier we teach our children strategies to set and achieve goals, the more independent and effective they will become at using these skills in other areas of their life.
2. Next, creating a reward for milestones as your child progresses toward their summer reading goal is a great way to keep your child motivated to read every day. For Preston, he gets excited about trips to $5 Below, so as he continues to read daily he earns cash he can use during our next trip to the store. Food rewards are also a big hit in our house. A pack of fruit snacks or making an ice cream sundae are fun and simple ways to encourage and reward consistent daily reading.
3. Another way to support your child as they settle into their summer reading routine is to mix it up with a variety of texts and formats, such as e-books, audiobooks, magazines, poetry, and even music lyrics. Get creative in finding opportunities for your young reader to practice their skills. If you are out to eat have your child read through the menu aloud while you wait for your food to come out. Look at an ad from the local grocery store and have your child read the specials aloud or the directions to the featured recipe. We read all day long, so begin to point out and celebrate when your child uses their reading skills outside of the traditional book and be sure to reward that practice as well.
Funny story, we recently went out to eat with my mom and sister and her family and as we are walking into the restaurant Preston shouts, "Oh it's happy hour!" He was so excited to share what he read on the sign in the entranceway. All of the adults busted out laughing. My husband and I looked at each other with a proud smile, like, "Yea, our baby knows how to read!"
4. Create a dedicated space like a reading nook, to provide a comfortable reading experience for your budding reader. This doesn't have to be anything elaborate, just something as simple as a special pillow or blanket, or even a designated area of your home that creates a system or habit that will reinforce the practice of reading daily without distractions. I personally love taking a blanket outside in the summer and reading in the grass. My son enjoys the flexible seating option that his oversized bean bag provides. If you still have that rocking chair you bought for your nursery and never used, repurpose that! (That is something I am guilty of... filling my kids' nursery with stuff we never used! LOL)
5. Lastly, make it social! Find a reading buddy for your child to swap books with, then schedule a time for them to discuss the books. The discussions can be guided with questions asking about favorite characters and alternative endings. A reading buddy could be a sibling, cousin, neighbor, or friend. Book debriefs can happen in person or virtually via FaceTime or other video call apps. It does not have to be anything formal or elaborate, something simple that is easy to maintain and will provide your child an opportunity to practice reading comprehension skills and they won't even notice they are doing it!
Reading consistently over the summer will also prevent summer slide and help your child retain what they learned during the school year. Encourage your child to read for 20 to 30 minutes a day and make it a family affair. When your child sees you reading too it will reinforce the importance of reading. You might be wondering, "what is summer slide anyway?!" This is a hot buzzword right now. The term summer slide refers to the loss of skills kids experience during the summer. Research suggests that children lose between 1-3 months of learning during the summer. Reading regularly is one simple way to combat summer slide or learning loss.
I know what you are thinking, "Cassandra aren't you all about STEM, science, technology, engineering, and math?! Why do you keep sharing blogs about reading?" Well, reading is the foundational skill of all other subjects. Reading is critical in developing independent learners who are prepared to take on complex tasks that require critical thinking and problem-solving. When children are confident in their reading skills they are better positioned for success in school and life. So, I hope this blog sparked ideas that you can use with your children to develop a solid summer reading routine. Don't forget to download this free, simple to use a reading habit tracker to help you get started.
Also, check out our Pinterest board, PBO Learns to Read, for more book lists, reading book inspiration, and lots of other resources to support busy parents as y’all Pull Brilliance Out of your children. I also share lots of great ideas on our Instagram page, PBOinSTEM, so be sure to follow us on IG, too!
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