Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Reading This Summer by Jami Spaulding

Every year on the last day of school we pile in the car and head straight to our local bookstore, the quaint one downtown with the unique selection of books and authors.  We browse books, play in their outstanding children’s area and grab a homemade snack in their darling café.  Then comes the struggle, choosing just the right book to kick off our summer reading. When we all have our selections we check out and head home, the girls often reading the whole way.

I love this tradition.  I love that mixed in with the fun and anticipation of summer freedom is an excitement about books and that natural transition to free reading all summer long.  I love that reading is the anticipated expectation and that our excitement spills onto everyone around us.  Currently, several of our neighbor kids are reading our recommendations and our on-line book clubs are buzzing with recommendations and book conversations.  I love that for us, summer equals time to read.

While we love books and reading, many kids and their families are tired of the work and routine of school and sadly they lump reading great books into the category of work and abandon reading altogether seeking instead the freedom of summer. Whether your summer is filled with reading adventures or void of books, these ten ideas will encourage your family to enjoy reading all summer long.

10.  Read Deep and Wide.  We love to do a genre challenge each summer.  It pushes us to try new things and we love the thrill of being the first one to complete.  The rules are simple.  I put the numbers 1-4 in a bowl and then one child draws a number.  The challenge then becomes to read that many books of each genre before the end of the summer.  We do count picture books and often we enjoy these together!

9.  Read in Fun Places.  One day a week I say, “Grab your books and let’s go.”  Sometimes we end up at a park, sometimes in the sculpture garden of a local campus, sometimes at a friend’s house.  When we arrive, we read.  It is a quick way to make reading an adventure and connect with friends on their summer reading journeys, too.

8.  Read with Friends and Fellow Booklovers.  We love to use Edmodo to connect with friends over the summer.  Each reader shares either their recommendation or their thoughts about a book they have read over the summer.  Sometimes the kids will post links to information about their books for others to see.  It is a fun way to keep talking and sharing reading experiences with others.

7.  Read at Unique Times.  Our favorite summer reading moment is “reading under the stars.”   We build a campfire in our fire bowl roast s’mores and wait for darkness to fall.  When it does, we bring out the books!  Sometimes we read a mystery, sometimes a camping story, and sometimes we all read our own book and enjoy the quiet beauty of reading under the stars. It’s a good idea to have flashlights on hand if the firelight isn’t quite enough to read by.

6. Read TO Others.  We talk often about how reading is a gift that can make someone’s life better by causing a connection or a happy memory or by letting them know someone cared enough to spend time sharing a story with them.  In our town we have a homeless shelter and several nursing homes that have programs where kids or families can sign up to read with residents.  It is a fantastic experience for all involved and really helps kids see how reading great books can bring people together.

5.  Read with Purpose.  As the summer starts to get busy, we rekindle our excitement about books and reading by challenging each other to find the best book of the summer.  Our criteria is that it has to have interesting characters that are so real you feel like you know them and a plot so compelling that you just can’t stop reading until you know what happens.  To tell you the truth, we have so much fun reading and chatting that we often end up naming one book from each genre because we just can’t settle on one best book!

4.  Read Online.  Our fantastic local library has an extensive collection of ebooks available for online check out.  We also use an iPad app to access our school’s ebook collection over the summer.  Sometimes reading in a different way is just enough to renew interest and kindle excitement about books.

3.  Read a Place.  Make the most of all the summer fun you have by reading everywhere you go.  Remember, reading includes things like signs, maps, plaques, anything with words or symbols that convey meaning.  Read everywhere you go and if you want a record of the fun things you’ve read snap a picture reading unique things in unique places.

2.  Read-A-Thon.  We do this toward the end of summer.  We like to keep it nice and simple.  We invite a few friends to bring their books and come on over.  We set a reading goal like we want to read for an hour and then everyone introduces the book they’ll be reading.  Then the reading begins.  We keep younger siblings happy by having lots of pictures books for them to explore.  When the time is up we gather again and everyone shares their thoughts on what they read.  We end with a treat.

1.  Read-a-LOT.  Keep books in your car and in your bag and read everywhere you go.  A summer full of book adventures begins and ends with great stories, so keep them handy and enjoy them in large quantities every chance you get.

We wish you a fun summer of reading and leave you with the books we chose to kick off our summer reading.  We began our summer reading adventure with:

a diamond in the desert

A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

capture the flag

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner

amelia bedelia road trip

Amelia Bedelia: Road Trip by Herman Parish

pinkalicious crazy hair day

Pinkalicious: Crazy Hair Day by Victoria Kahn.

Jami Spaulding is a life-long learner and lover of books.  She has taught nearly every elementary grade level in a variety of settings and is currently an elementary librarian.  She loves helping kids discover their unique voices and connecting them to great books.  Her favorite job is raising her own three readers.  You can follow her on Twitter at @jamibookmom.