Sometimes with all of the sunshine and freedom of summer, it can be difficult to want to just sit down and read a book. Most kids and teens want to be outside and active with their friends when it is warm and beautiful. However, it is still important to focus on improving and maintaining reading and vocabulary skills for the next year at school. We’ve surveyed the teachers here at A Grade Ahead and here are a number of fun ways to challenge and encourage reading even throughout the summer!
Challenge 1: Join a Library Reading Challenge
In the summer, many local libraries offer free summer reading programs and contests for people of all different ages. These programs also often connect with local businesses and companies to offer prizes and rewards for meeting goals. Some of goals can include reading a certain number of pages each day, reading certain books on a list, and finding the answers to questions about each book. Some libraries even offer ways that students can receive points for doing online book reports and attending events. Having these rewards is a fun incentive to get your child to read, with the added bonus of not having to spend money.
Challenge 2: Read a Genre They Wouldn’t Normally Pick
If you notice your children tend to pick out similar types of books every time you go book shopping or to the library, urge them to try something new and different this summer! If they usually read science fiction or fantasy books, try to get them to choose a non-fiction book with some of the same themes as science fiction such as planets, space, or modern technology. If they like reading mystery stories, try to pick out a non-fiction mystery story or thriller for them to read. It might also be a good idea to check out a book of poems. Poetry can be nice to read because it is interesting and yet doesn’t require a long attention span. Poetry also often has expressive, unique vocabulary and imagery. Here are some good suggestions for books to read over the summer for all age groups.
Challenge 3: Exchange a Favorite Book with a Friend
Another fun idea is to do a book exchange with a friend that is about the same age. This will allow both people to explore new types of books as well as possibly different levels of reading. If the book is harder than your child usually reads, it might push him or her to try books that are out of his or her comfort level. Exchanging books is also a great opportunity for friends to get together and talk because after they read they can discuss what they enjoyed about each other’s book and why. Encourage them to swap ideas about which parts they liked and what they think would make it an even more interesting read. How would they rewrite their friend’s book to fit their interests?
Challenge 4: Read a Current Event Book
For older readers, a worthwhile summer reading challenge is to connect books with a current event they are interested in. If your children follow political events, encourage them to read a book about political issues (possibly from a different viewpoint than their own). If they love hiking, animals or nature, go to the library and find a book on current environmental issues. Reading non-fiction books about current events can really open your child’s mind up to things that are happening outside of their community that affect others in the nation and world. If they are a bit stubborn and say they aren’t concerned about anything current, pick up a local newspaper and have them read some interesting headlines in each section. Reading current event books doesn’t have to be a serious affair either. If your child finds an article in the paper about a local play or concert interesting, pick up a book about modern music or theater.
Challenge 5: Read to a Younger Sibling or Friend
What better way to have fun reading than to share it with someone else? Even though the book will not be as challenging to the student who is reading it, the experience of sharing books will be a great bonding moment. Reading to someone else is a fun way to also get both parties excited about books and inspire them to read more. For older students, reading to small children can be especially fun because they are easily excited.
Challenge 6: Read a Book That is Also a Movie
This is a fun summer reading challenge because it also involves watching movies! Ask your child what his or her favorite movies are these days and then try to find the book versions of them. For younger kids, a story related to the movie is fine – the book does not have to be the exact story that the movie is based on. It will just be fun for them to see their favorite movie characters in a book, and it encourages them to want to read.
For older students, find a book first that you know already has a movie based off it. Usually, books are more detailed, and most of the time, people find that the book was better than the movie. After your child finishes reading, watch the movie together and ask what the differences and similarities are. What was left out? What was better about the book or movie?
It would be great if you, the parent, also read the book! Also, make sure your children know they can’t watch the movie until they finish reading the book!
Challenge 7: Read a Book a Grade or Two Above Their Level
Since students will be going into the next grade level after summer break, it is important to try to advance reading skills for the next grade year. It can be difficult going back into school without any practice over the summer. Choosing a few books that are just a little bit above the student’s level can be a great way to learn new grammar, vocabulary, and topics that will be useful in the next school year. Make sure to balance these books out with books the student wants to read or it may get too frustrating.
Hopefully these tips gave some ideas to encourage and challenge your students over the summer to keep on reading while also keeping it fun! Do you do anything different to encourage reading over the summer? Let us know!
Author: Elisa Travalio – Editor, Teacher and Blog Writer at A Grade Ahead