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Motivating Kids to Read During the Summer

boy laying in the grass reading a book

For some children, academic learning can stagnate during the summer, but there are ways adults can motivate kids to read and continue to support the skills that the children in their care have developed and improved upon during the school year. Consider that for many children of school-age, summer brings a sense of entitlement to not focus on tasks that feel “academic” in nature. Children want to focus on summer fun, not necessarily school-like required reading. This is where providing an expectation, but opening up choice to how it is completed may be helpful.

Kids are motivated best, according to research from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, when they are offered some self-determination in completing tasks. Allowing them to set a time goal, a number of pages goal, or even a number of books goal will encourage them. Providing rich literature of their choosing from sources like audiobook apps, the local public library, your own home, or an independent bookseller with genres and subjects that engage your child is recommended.  Once your child has selected a text to focus on, making a simple visual tracker to post on the refrigerator may help them keep their habit. A simple calendar-page for the month, where you child can add a sticker or draw a shape to track their reading goal would suffice. Multiple children could use multiple pages, or different stickers to track.

Engage with this reading work, as well, so that your child feels supported in doing the task. Perhaps as a reader yourself, you might set your own goal, and use the same visual tracking method your kiddo uses so they can see your progress. Some adults feel pressed for time, or perhaps their reading habits are not what they once were due to time constraints, or lack of enjoyment in the process (what is true for our kiddos can be true for adults as well), and so there are other ways to support your child as a reader.

Develop a time to talk about what your kiddo is reading, like a simple check-in during a car ride. Empower another adult to connect with your child’s reading, by asking them, when they call or visit with your child, to ask a few questions about what your child is reading. Knowing that someone else is going to check-in regularly may keep your child eager enough to continue the habit of reading, as connection-making is important to child development as well. This time with a beloved adult may be just enough connection for a child to continue to develop a habit of lifelong-reading, and grow your child as a reader.

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