As I’m planning out a summer vacation chock full of camps and family trips, I realize I need to incorporate learning time for my daughter. School gets out mid-June for us, starts up again around the first week of September. That’s an awfully long haul between focused education. So, to counter that, we are setting up our own family reading program which will be incentive based (of course!)
Many Public Libraries offer summer reading programs that can incentivize your children to read. Some programs offered registered ‘readers’ chances to win tickets, prizes and books as incentives to read books over the summer break. However, with the major library cutbacks that seem to be affecting everyone nationwide, I thought I’d mention it..but I can’t promise you have one in your area. Sorry.
Therefore, we have constructed our own program. First, have your child make a ‘wish list’. It should be the full-spectrum, from a Trip to the Moon to a new squishie eraser. In making a list, it gives kids a chance to prioritize what is important and attainable to them. Next, review the list with your child and select one to three items that are affordable and realistic for your budget. The next step is to make up a reading list for summer, and award prizes for completing a certain number of books.
While I let my daughter choose her books, I do try and steer some of the choices. Fun reading is always included, but I try to add at least one to two advanced books. These books may challenge my daughter and she may complain a bit if she doesn’t understand something, but it has proven to be a great opportunity to have an impromptu book discussion. I try and ask open-ended questions such as, “What do you think the character was feeling then?” Getting through challenging parts of a book helps maintain motivation, so make sure to help your child out if needed. No one needs to find that ‘lost book’ stuffed behind the couch months later!
Another way to get my child to read books that she thinks she is not interested in, is to tell her that she will most likely be reading that in class next year. Yeah, it’s sneaky but always works. The thought of getting a jump on things entices her. She will get through the book, and so far no post-reading complains!
Most children will often forget about the incentive prizes as they get lost in the books, and just enjoy reading as an activity. However, try and follow up on that reward. It will be a fun surprise, and is fun to get while doing some back to school shopping.
After a hard day of play or camp, offer your child a snack outside, and a comfy chair to sit in. One of my most favorite activities as a child was to sit in the backyard and listen to birds and the wind rustle through the trees as I read a magazine or book.
Spread the joy of reading with your kids – it’s easy and fun!