Flushed faces splash into a pool and the familiar scent of sunscreen and chlorine lingers in the air. Bonfires glow on a warm night while the sounds of crickets coax drowsy campers to sleep. Picnics, vacations, and lazy days are in the works. Summer is approaching, and all these activities and more are awaiting eager children.
However, with the plethora of activities to look forward to, it is easy to overlook one of the most important things a child can do during the summer—read. While many families make it a goal to do summer reading, it is often neglected for a variety of reasons, including lack of time, forgetfulness, or simply the fact that kids don’t want to read when they are on a break from school! Although these reasons are legitimate and sometimes difficult to surmount, it is still important to make reading a top priority in the home.
Rachel Wadham, BYU’s education and juvenile collections librarian, is a strong proponent of summer reading. She says, “Reading is important. Period, capitalized, underlined. Being able to interact with our world means being able to read.” She explained that it is especially crucial for children in today’s society to be good readers because, “We need to help them be engaged and critical thinkers in order to prepare them for the jobs of the future. . . . We need them to be engaged in understanding the world around them, and in my estimation, the cornerstone of that is literacy.”
Wadham has offered her top ten tips to help parents and students become more engaged in summer reading.
Tip 1: Make Reading a Habit
When home reading is turned into just summer reading, it gives a false sense of what it should be in the first place. The best thing a parent can do for a child is to make reading an integral part of the home all year round. If it doesn’t happen all year round, it is not going to happen during the summer.
Tip 2: Use Summer as Momentum
For those parents who want to start the habit of reading in the home, use summertime as a momentum to get going. Once school starts, the momentum will continue and reading will become a focus in the family.
Tip 3: Make it Relevant
When children find a reason to do something, they are more likely to keep doing it. If you are going on vacation, a great way to get involved in summer reading is to check out books about your destination. If it is a national park, check out fiction and nonfiction books about the history of the park, or how it was developed. If your children are interested in animals, look up the wildlife that will be there and find books about those animals. This is a great opportunity to enrich your vacations by connecting deeply with the background and culture of the area.
Tip 4: Make an Activity out of It
How many times in the summer do you hear the phrase “I’m bored”? Next time your children say this, take your family on a fun outing to the library. Let them roam free in the library and look at books that spark their interest. After they check out some books, stop and get ice cream or a few snacks that they can munch on when they get home and begin reading.
Tip 5: Take Advantage of Summer Reading Programs
Almost every library has a free summer reading program. Often these programs are competitive and have rewards. If your child has a competitive edge, this is a great way to get them involved. Or, if they aren’t competitive, they can enjoy recording and watching their reading progress. They will feel a sense of accomplishment as they stay involved.
Tip 6: Make It a Family Affair
When you go to the library to sign up for summer reading, it’s not just a kid thing anymore . . . you should be doing it too! Reading is something that everybody can participate in. When it becomes a family affair, your children will see how important reading is to you and how important it is to the family. The reality is, kids are so observant and they watch what the adults in their lives do. The more you participate, the more you will better yourself as parent and show the kids that mom and dad read too!
Tip 7: Define Reading Broadly
Reading does not mean that you or your children need to be lovers of fiction. Reading can be defined very broadly. You could read fiction, nonfiction, scholarly articles, or magazines. Whatever you decide to read, just remember to enjoy it!
Tip 8: Ask a Librarian
If you or your child haven’t read in a while and don’t know where to begin, visit your local library. The librarians are trained to help you get started. They will ask questions about your hobbies, passions, or favorite TV shows. Once they learn more about you they can direct you down a path where you can find books you will actually like.
Tip 9: Challenge Your Reading Identity
Don’t put yourself in a box by only reading one genre of book. If you haven’t read a fiction book in a while, stretch yourself! Maybe it will surprise you how many different types of literature you enjoy.
Tip 10: Just Start!
Reading is a matter of practice, and practice makes perfect. If you don’t consider you or your child a very strong reader, that is okay! Challenge yourself and don’t set limitations on the number of books you read or the types of books you think you should be reading. Start a book and see where it takes you.
Summer reading is something that anyone can do. It is often free and can lead you and your children down wonderful paths. Choose to make this the summer where reading becomes an integral part of your home.
For a list of book recommendations from Wadham for summer reading click here.
Writer: Ashley Hamblin
Contact: Shauna Valentine (801) 422- 8562