While the idea of making a kid read for half their summer seems a bit cruel, it’s really pretty important to keep up their reading skills over summer vacation. Luckily I have one kid who’s still young enough she enjoys me reading to her (she’s only 5, and still learning to read), and my oldest absolutely loves books.
The real trick to any summer reading program is to find books they enjoy. My son is pretty stubborn when it comes to suggested reading, and will go out of his way to pick his own books just out of spite. However, some might actually like hunting for specific books on a list. To make it easier to find books, pick a summer reading program from your local libraries.
If you live in an area where kids can go to the library by themselves, this is an excellent opportunity to give them a little extra freedom while sparking their interest in books. Again we are lucky because our library in our small town is just around the corner. My 8 yr old can easily hop on his bike and pick out his own books. Although it’s a small library, so we have been taking trips to the bigger library one town over.
Picking a time to read really isn’t too hard. Just before bedtime is perfect since it’s usually a time of day where routine isn’t easily altered. Even in the summer my kids have a bed time, or at least a time of night when they are to go lay down in their rooms. The rest of the day might have a varied schedules, but bed time is always the same. My oldest has been in the habit of reading at bed time for well over a year now. We use to read together, now he does it on his own.
To recap, yes summer reading programs are important but you don’t want to force them. Take family trips to the library or make it a special deal for the older kids, and use lists only if they are interested. The worst thing you can do is turn them off of reading by forcing certain books.