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When my kids were younger, they consumed books. Mostly driven by my oldest, we were at the library all the time. We maxxed our library card out every visit and went home with stacks of books. The books actually were read and not just left to collect dust in the library basket.

I thought I was a pretty stellar homeschool mom with my wagon full of books and my four little readers trailing along.

Don’t worry.

It didn’t take long for me to be humbled.

I honestly don’t know what happened. My best guess is puberty. Puberty will level that playing field in a heartbeat. You think your kid is going to graduate from high school when they are 10 and college when they are 13… and then comes puberty!

Your kid who could read three or four chapter books at a time and keep up with each of the story lines suddenly cannot remember why they walked into the kitchen. The child who was an avid reader now can’t even make it through the first page without forgetting what they just read.

Puberty is hard on kids. Their bodies are going through so much change and it is simply painful for them to try to keep up sometimes.

I noticed the slow down in reading with my older two once they hit middle school. My number 3 has never cared for reading. But she gets a pass… she had brain cancer when she was six. Those years when she was supposed to be learning how to read were filled with pain and turmoil and chemo. She can read. She just doesn’t like it. My number 4 is eleven and she is picking up speed with her reading. She was in an IEW writing and literature class with our co op this year. They had assigned chapter books to read every month and would end with a book club… complete with treats. Her love of reading has grown. It is not uncommon to see her walking around the house with a book in front of her face.

I have a spectrum of readers in my house.

When they were little, I didn’t worry about summer reading. We knocked all those incentive programs from the library, Barnes and Noble, etc. out of the park!

Now… the challenge is a little more real. My oldest just graduated from high school. He’s come around. On his own, he has rediscovered and remembered that he likes reading. It just took a little time. Maybe there is hope for his sisters.

In the mean time, here are my TOP TEN Ways to Encourage Summer Reading.

  1. Summer Reading Programs– Most libraries have a summer reading program. Ours even has one for adults. Some are per book and some are per minute read. Most result in your child getting to pick out a new book at the end of the summer. Some put your child’s name in a drawing for a bigger prize at the end of the summer. My oldest won a Kindle Fire one year. Other Summer reading incentive programs are available through The Good and The Beautiful, Barnes and Noble, Half Priced Books Summer Reading Camp, Scholastic, and Camp Book It from Pizza Hut.
  2. Summer Reading Book Bingo– I was browsing the interwebs and came across THIS FUN PRINTABLE to aid with summer reading. This printable Book Bingo is a great idea for keeping up with summer reading! There are several versions of book Bingo out there. Or you could MAKE YOUR OWN!
  3. Movie Night! Often, when my kids finish a book that has been made into a movie, we will watch the movie for family movie night. Of course, we then have to discuss how the book is so much better.
  4. Read Alouds– Don’t forget the value of reading aloud. Even my teens like it when I call them in to listen. Family reading is so valuable and creates such fond memories and a common experience. Your child might not be the one doing the reading, but this is still a valuable reading experience.
  5. Book Club! Perhaps you could team up with some other families who have children of similar ages. The kids could all read the same book and then get together to discuss. You could provide hot chocolate or lemonade and snacks. The kids can talk about the book- what they liked, what they didn’t like, what surprised them, would they recommend it to a friend, etc. This could totally be done with young kids or teens.
  6. Connect to Summer Activities Find books that go with your summer plans. Are you going to the beach, find books set at the beach. Will your child be working this summer? Find books on entrepreneurship or with a main character who is working. Is your child going on a mission trip with church? Read some missionary biographies. Is your child going to camp? to an amusement park? to the lake? I think you get the idea.
  7. Read to Someone – a pet, a neighbor, a sibling. Task your child with reading aloud to something or someone. Reading aloud hones and refines reading in a unique way. Maybe make a weekly trips to a local preschool and read to the littles. We did that one year for Christmas. Or maybe you could visit an assisted living and read to some of the residents. Or perhaps visit the local humane society. Maybe just read to your stuffed animals or dolls!
  8. Audiobooks– It took me a little while to get behind audiobooks as a valid reading tool. However, I have seen the light! My husband is a very auditory person. He does not like to read, but once he discovered audio books, his world was changed. He listens to the Bible when he runs and it has really allowed him to absorb what he is hearing. I have a more difficult time with audio books. I get very distracted and miss large chunks if I’m not doing something like driving, exercising, or drawing. We often have books going in the car. This year my girls and I listened to the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson each week on our way to and from co op.
  9. Pen Pals– Encourage your children to write letters to friends… even if their friends just live a couple of miles away and even if they have a device on which they can call or text. Last summer, my youngest discovered the fun of letter writing and receiving letters in the mail. She even started a little book where she kept the addresses of her friends… she thought it was such a novel idea and that people should sell address books. Ha ha! While it may not be reading a book, reading letters is fun and promotes literacy. Learning the art of delayed gratification through writing and receiving letters is a great byproduct as well.
  10. Incentives– What types of incentives motivate your children. Maybe they don’t care about the free book they can get from the summer reading program. Maybe they’d prefer an experience. What can you do to help encourage your children to read. Sure! We would all love our children to just understand the benefit of reading and let that be the reward. But the reality is some children (people) need a little more to work towards. Maybe a trip out for icecream, extra screen time, extra stay up time, riding shot gun for a week, favorite dinner, rearranging or redecorating their room, having a friend over, whip cream and waffles for dinner, icecream for breakfast, a hamster, a shopping spree… skies the limit!

How do you encourage summer reading in your home? Comment below and share the wealth!

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