Top Ten Ways to Keep Your Child Reading Over Summer by Ginger Healy and Stacy Rivas

As fifth grade teachers, we work hard in our classrooms to create a strong reading community by providing lots of choice and opportunities for reading. We are proud of our students for developing their reading preferences, sharing books with their reading communities, and carving out time for reading while in our care. Our classrooms include robust classroom libraries, and constant conversations about books are part of our daily routine.


Sometimes students and parents come to us with concerned faces during the last weeks of school, asking “How do I keep this up over the summer?” Here is how we recommend you keep up this reading momentum over the summer.


Top Ten Ways to keep your child reading over summer:


  1. Set a summer reading goal by establishing the number of books you hope to read over the summer. Decide a number, and then add one or two to the list.

Articulating goals is the first step towards meeting them. Help your child set a summer reading goal and estimate how many books they think they might read by the end of the summer. As the summer progresses, check in with your child to see how they’re doing and help them set short-term goals. Think about how many books per week they might read. When they achieve these short-term goals, it will make the long-term summer reading goal even more attainable!


After your child sets their summer reading goal, challenge them to add a book or two to that number. It’s a good thing to make this number ambitious. By checking in often and following the other tips on this list, we are confident your child will achieve their summer reading goal, no matter how lofty it may seem!


  1. Write down a TBR (“to be read”) list

Challenge your child to compile a list now of books that capture their interest so that they won’t forget to read them this summer. Encourage your child to ask their friends and teachers for recommendations to add to their TBR list. Work with your child to make a plan for obtaining the books on their list. Will you help your child check them out from the library, purchase them from a bookstore, order them online, or download onto an e-reader? As your child completes books on their TBR list, encourage them to add new books.


  1. Record your reading: take pictures of book covers, write them down in a journal, set up an account in Goodreads

Recording books read in a fun way keeps readers reading! It’s motivating to see that list grow and grow. There are lots of ways to do this. Your child could snap photos of book covers and even create a colorful collage at the end of the summer. Your child might consider jotting down completed books in a summer reading journal. You could create a family Goodreads account, which provides a space for marking books to-read, tracking progress of books they’re currently reading, and an opportunity to write reviews.


  1. Carve out time to read regularly

Help your child to find time to read. Encourage your child to make a habit out of reading at the same time each day. Perhaps your child enjoys reading in bed when they first wake up, or maybe your child likes to read at night right before falling asleep. Always carry a book with you so that your child can “steal” reading minutes while sitting in traffic or waiting in line at the grocery store.


  1. Family reading time

Read silently together: A family that reads together… gets to bond over books by sharing stories together! Carve out time in your week to get cozy together on the couch, under the shade of a favorite tree, or another comfy spot in your home to enjoy your respective reading material. Ideally, this family reading time is a regular part of your weekly routine, and so it is also predictable and consistent for your child. Just as your family might head to the ice cream shop every Friday after camp, you might also read together every Sunday after pancakes sitting together, enjoying the quiet, and diving into your reading. Watching adults model strong reading habits is a great way to maintain that excitement about reading for your child.


Family read alouds (parent to child, child to sibling): Family reading time can also include sharing books together. Choose a book from your child’s TBR list to read aloud together. Riding the wave of a story’s plot twists and character arc is an exciting shared experience. Don’t forget picture books! Picture books are for everyone: kids of all ages, and adults, too! They make excellent read alouds and are chock full of special lessons and teachable moments.


  1. Regular trips to the library or bookstore

What better way to build a child’s excitement about reading than to surround them with books! Regular visits to the local library or bookstore are so much fun. Look for books on your child’s TBR list, or add to that list by discovering new titles. Show your child’s TBR list to a librarian or bookstore employee to ask if they have any similar books to recommend. Bringing your child home with some shiny new or new-to-them books will surely send a sparkle to their eye.


  1. Leave stacks of books or magazines around the house

A home filled with books leads to increased reading. Pile up chapter books, picture books, newspapers, magazines, and comic books in every room of the house. Your child may pick up something to read if you’ve left it sitting out there for them. Switch up the stacks frequently to expose your child to a mix of reading material.


  1. Email your past teacher over the summer about your reading

We want to hear from our students about what they’re reading! If your child emails us to share exciting book adventures, we will happily respond with enthusiasm! We may ask your child to tell us more about their favorite character, the plot or any emotional reactions to the book. If we know what they enjoyed as they read, we can also make additional book recommendations.


  1. Start a summer book club with other families in your circle of friends or your neighborhood

One of the best ways to keep a child reading is to surround them with a reading community. Book clubs are a great way to plug into a community. Plan a couple of book club dates with families you’re already friendly with. You might also consider including some families you have not yet bonded with. Talking about books alongside a table of delicious potluck treats sounds like a great way to spend a summer evening!


  1. Choose at least one book to read in tandem with someone (friend or parent)

Sharing a reading experience builds reading joy and allows your child to bond with a reading buddy. Diving into a book at the same time as a friend or adult gives your child a partner for discussing the book. Is your child shocked by a plot twist? Your child can call their friend to see if that surprised them as well. Is your child giggling about a silly character? Did that goofiness make you laugh as well?


Ginger Healy and Stacy Rivas are part of the fifth grade sisterhood teaching team at Curtis School, an independent school in Los Angeles. Despite rooting for different college sports (Ginger is a diehard USC Trojan fan, while Stacy favors the UCLA Bruins), they are book besties who love to eat ice cream and find ways to connect everything back to Friends. They both read voraciously. Ginger swears by Wonder, Like Magic, and Refugee, while Stacy loves The Girl Who Drank the Moon, A Snicker of Magic, and Harry Potter.

Ginger can be found on Twitter at @books_ghealy, and Stacy can be at @MrsRivas_Bruins