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5 tips to keep your kids reading all summer

Keeping kids reading all summer is a critical way to get them ready to learn in the fall. But, it can be difficult to convince them to pick up a book.

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Child, reading
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
, Go Ask Mom editor
Keeping kids reading all summer is a critical way to get them ready to learn in the fall. But it sometimes can be difficult to convince them to pick up a book. Emily Greene, author of "School, Disrupted: Rediscovering the Joy of Learning in a Pandemic-Stricken World," shares some tips to help kids, as she says, "reignite the joy of learning and have your kids begging to read."

“The last thing we want is for our children to fall behind, especially in reading,” says Greene, a working mother of three children.

Here's what Greene recommends.

Stop forcing kids to read for “the minutes.”

When children read for “the minutes,” it can feel like a chore or even a punishment. “We don’t want our kids to dread reading and count down the minutes until it’s over,” Greene says. “Instead, we want them to seek out books because they add something positive, fun and joyful to their lives.” To achieve this, try starting from a place of curiosity, she says. Take them to the bookstore or library and let them browse and pick any book they want, whatever they find interesting. “Curiosity has been called ‘the force within a hungry mind,’“ Greene says. “It’s what makes children want to learn. When reading is driven by curiosity, your child will be genuinely interested in the information in the book. They will likely have thoughts, questions, and ideas about what they read.”

Set up a fun and playful reading space.

This can be simply a cozy nook filled with books, along with fidgets for the children to play with as they read, Greene says. You can also toss in scarves, hats, wigs, mirrors, pillows or other accessories. That way you and your child can read in costume and use funny voices and silly gestures to better bring those stories to life. “Kids also love forts, so drape a few chairs or sofa cushions with a sheet or blanket or make a pillow nest,” she says.

Let them read along with audio books and YouTube videos.

Many books have an audio version, so get both that and the print version. Then your child can read along as they listen, Greene says. If a book doesn’t have an audio version, you and your child could create your own and follow along with that, she says. Yes, audio books count as reading, Greene says, and they also help improve vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency, which is the ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with good expression.

Take on the “Read It and Do It Challenge.”

Reading may be sedentary, but it can lead to action for you and your children, Greene says. Read cookbooks and recipes, then cook. Read travel or museum reviews, then visit the place you read about. Read a movie review, then go to the movie. Or read instructions for how to build something, then build it. Similarly, she says, you can create a “Write It and Read It Challenge.” Write a letter to a family member or friend, a menu, or even a sign for a lemonade stand, then read these written words out loud.

Start or join a book club for kids.

This book club could be in person, on Zoom or on Outschool.com. Kids can be inspired by seeing other kids with enthusiasm for reading, and a book club is a great way to expose kids to other readers. “Once you finish a book through your book club, celebrate at the end by watching the movie version if there is one,” Greene says.

“The more we tap into curiosity as the engine of learning,” Greene says, “the more children will develop a desire to read.”

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