Many parents I know, hope to encourage their children to use the summer months to read more, either to keep up with learning outside of school or to help them build the life-long habit of being regular readers.
Research suggests that for kids to develop the habit of reading they need:
- Access to books, magazines, audio-books, and graphic novels. Try not to limit the content, topic, or format. Reading is reading, illustrated books and audio-books included.
- Quiet time in their day (or week) set aside for reading, or at least without screens. Boredom can be a great motivator to read.
- Encouragement from adults that reading is fun and valuable. The most crucial way parents can raise readers is for their children to see them reading regularly!
- Rewards for readers — and this is critical — that re-enforce reading habits. That means reward reading with reading…more books, more trips to the library, or perhaps a purchase of a new book. Avoid rewarding them with screen time, snacks, or toys.
My children are all very devoted readers and read all year, with the summer being a time when their reading shifts into overdrive. We do not need to encourage them to read more, per se, but we are careful to make sure that we visit the library several times a week, that we allow for quiet time for reading every day, and (this one is really important), we keep a stash a books in every car, every backpack, every pool or beach bag — so every trip, long or short, can be filled up with reading. (Side note: we stock up at the used book store in summer to prevent damage to library books.)
IF YOU WANT A GOOD BOOK TO READ WITH YOUR KIDS, TRY…
The Harry Potter series, enough said. If you have not read these to your kids, this summer you finally should (or alternately listen to the incomparable Jim Dale read the audiobooks to your whole family.)
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall is a delightful book (and series) that follows a family of sisters who are always busy stirring up trouble on their summer vacations. The three delightful sequels that follow are also worth the read, readers get to see the sisters through their girlhood and into college.
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George is a timeless tale of a boy who feels too crowded by life in the city, so he sets out to live by his wits in the wilderness. Totally fascinating stories of survival that will enchant your whole family.
The Diary of A Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. I know, parents love to hate these books but kids LOVE them and they really are very funny. A great one to read curled up together, laughing at Kinney’s hysterical drawings.
The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton is a adorable story about the world’s most awesome treehouse — thirteen stories of pools, game rooms, junk food-filled kitchens, and more! It also has four great sequels.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (Chris Grabenstein) This wonderfully inventive story tells of a group of children who must work together using clues from their favorite books to find a way to escape from the new town library, built by a wacky gamemaker named Mr. Lemoncello. The sequel, Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olpymics is just as good — maybe better — than the original.
My boys also loved classic The Phantom Tollbooth by Jules Feiffer, the story of a bored young boy named Milo who unexpectedly receives a magic tollbooth one afternoon and, having nothing better to do, drives through it in his toy car, transporting him to the Kingdom of Wisdom, once prosperous but now troubled. Also a classic to read this summer is Half Magic by Edward McMaken Eager, which will have you and your kids scrambling to do the math on just how to make the perfect wish!
Absolutely everything by Rick Riordan (by kids love the narrator of his audiobooks too!) and all of the kids books by James Patterson are sure to thrill young readers too!
How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell, so funny and filled with ridiculous translations and tips for dragon-care.
IF YOUR KIDS ARE FANS OF GRAPHIC NOVELS, TRY…
The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi
Anything by Raina Telgemeier, particularly her novels Sisters and Smile.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Try the gorgeously illustrated novels that re-tell the Star Wars stories, The Star Wars Illustrated Series (3 book but various authors) http://www.goodreads.com/series/150336-star-wars-illustrated-novels
IF YOU HAVE A FAN OF YOUNG ADULT NOVELS, TRY…
Anything by Rainbow Rowell! I have reviewed all of her books (YA and Adult) on this blog and I keep begging my friends, sister, husband, son, and everyone else to read her books. For Harry Potter fans try Carry On (http://wp.me/p6N6mT-m6) and for those who love a heart-wrenching teen romance pick up Eleanor & Park (http://wp.me/p6N6mT-nD)
Another great YA read is the His Dark Materials — The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass — series by Philip Pullman. You will be entranced by these fantasy novels about parallel worlds whose residents are locked in an epic battle with the dark side.
Lois Lowry’ slim sci-fi dystopia, The Giver, is also a wonderful book (and a wonderful series) that you can finish in one lazy afternoon. If you are a fan of The Hunger Games series, you will love this one as well. Other notable YA sci-fi: The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins are all worth read, as are Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game series, and Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.