Posted in Literacy Support, Teaching

Encouraging Summer Reading: Six Tips for Parents

Reposted from

As an adult, I want nothing more out of summer than the chance to lie on the beach and read a book (maybe with a cocktail in hand) – but your children may feel differently about their summer reading assignments. Read on for tips to get them cracking book covers, and follow atxEnglish on Facebook for regular book reviews, study tips, and writing advice.

How to Encourage Summer Reading

  1. Sit down on your sofa (or chair, lounger, towel, etc.) and read your own book. Kids are more likely to follow your instructions if they see you doing it first!
  2. In addition to reading your own book, also read their books – with them, of course.Help your kids get started by reading the first chapter together. Alternating pages or paragraphs while reading aloud is a great strategy because it allows your kids to hear a fluent reader (that’s you!) model inflection and tone, followed by a chance for them to practice those skills. Make sure to ask your child a question or two to check their understanding and ensure the book they’re reading is a good fit in terms of reading level.
  3. Let them pick what to read. Seriously. Even if the school sent home a reading list, let them pick what THEY WANT to read from the list. Parents sometimes get hung up on what children SHOULD be reading, but as long as they can understand it, it really doesn’t matter. We (by “we” I mean teachers) want children to be reading regularly – period. Magazines, cookbooks, comics, knock knock jokes, blogs, fiction, nonfiction: it’s all valid reading material. Letting kids choose increases their engagement, making it more likely that they’ll start reading and stick with it. If you have a stubborn little one who insists s/he doesn’t like anything, I suggest conferring with your local children’s librarian (APL is awesome – they have specialist librarians who will help you), and following this blog.
  4. Talk about reading. At meals or in the car, ask your children about what they’re reading. If they say they hate it, make them explain why. Volunteer your thoughts about what you’re reading. When you meet up with family or friends, start a conversation about books. Make reading an everyday occurrence and a normal (read: inescapable) part of life.
  5. Encourage quitting. Well, maybe you shouldn’t encourage it – but if your child has started a book (as in, read the first couple of chapters or a reasonable number of pages), it’s okay to let them stop reading it and choose something else. We’ve all found ourselves completely disengaged in a book we initially thought we’d like, and forcing kids to finish a book they hate (when they COULD be reading something they actually enjoy) doesn’t accomplish much. There’s an exception to this rule, though: if your child struggles to finish any books or reading material, you should encourage them to stick with the text they’ve chosen. As a teacher, I usually allow students to “quit” two books in a row; once they get to their third choice, though, it’s time to stay the course and follow through until “the end.”
  6. Reward them for reading. We all want our kids to be intrinsically motivated, but a little extrinsic motivation goes a long way. For younger readers, make a sticker chart: every time they finish a book (or a chapter, or 10 pages, or whatever you think is an appropriate mini-goal), they get a sticker on their chart. Once they get X amount of stickers, they get a prize: an ice cream, movie tickets, extra screen time, a new book, you name it! For older readers, let them come up with the reward: you set the expectation (e.g. they’ll read six books this summer), and they come up with a list of potential rewards. Make sure it’s a long list so at least one option is likely to be acceptable to both parties.

So there you have it, folks: six tips to turn your kids into book addicts this summer.

Happy reading!



Texan, teacher, writer, reader: that’s me in a nutshell. Originally from Texas, I now live in London with my husband (he’s a Brit) and our two boys. I spend my time devouring books (especially young adult/middle grade fiction), baking cookies and generally going in ten directions at once. More than a decade ago, I moved to London for a teaching job, met my husband, stayed, and started a family. The last few years have been a whirlwind: in 2013, we moved to Austin, TX and I decided to stay at home with our son; in 2014, we bought and renovated a house in South Austin; in 2015, we welcomed our second son at a local birth center...and in 2016, we packed up and moved back to London! 2017 is set to see more changes as our eldest little starts school and I head back to the classroom. Read on for renovation info, book reviews, creative writing posts, and the general flotsam and jetsam of my life.

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