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Here are ten fun ways to keep kids happily reading all summer long:
1. Summer reading programs.
If your kids need a little motivation, or just want to earn prizes for the books they're reading, summer reading programs are a great incentive. Keep track of books read and earn free t-shirts, pizza, books, or even arcade game tokens. Pretty much any local library is a great place to start, and you can also sign up online at scholastic.com, Books A Million, Chuck E Cheese, Book It, Barnes & Noble and SYNC summer audio book program for teens.
2. Start a neighborhood or online book club.
Gather a few friends and their parents, then pick a book and a place to meet. Make it easy and relaxed; no pressure to finish the book or contemplate deep questions of theme or symbolism: Did they like the book? Who was their favorite character? How would they change the ending? Maybe even add in a craft or related activity. With vacations and camp-packed summers keeping everyone busy, a virtual book club meeting may work even better.
3. Pick a weekly theme.
Use your kids' interests as a jumping off point for books to read, or introduce them to a new topic. Start with a Book is a great resource for books and activities all centered around a theme, organized by grade level and theme, with websites, apps, and field trip suggestions for even more themed fun.
4. Spend an afternoon at the library.
Instead of just a quick in and out to return and check out books, spend one of those long, hot summer days hanging out in the air-conditioned bliss of your local library. Help the kids pick out a stack of books, then kick back, relax and read a magazine. Just kidding, you'll be reading that stack of books for a while.
5. Try other book media.
Having a reluctant reader has really forced me to think outside of the book-box, and I've found a new appreciation for books in other forms. Graphic novels, audiobooks, and even comics still "count" as reading, and may even turn a reluctant reader into a quasi-enthusiastic one.
Related: Study: Reading Books With Dad Improves His Parenting Skills
6. Model casual reading.
Time for ourselves is often the very last item on any summer to-do list, but taking the time to read for fun, just for yourself is not only good for you, it models good reading habits for your kids. Take the time when you can, or keep an easy-read book nearby to peruse during bath time or while the kids play outside.
7. Start a BookTube channel or book review blog.
If you're unfamiliar with BookTube, it's a community of Vloggers (video bloggers) who talk about and review books on YouTube. Of course, a YouTube channel isn't necessary, kids can just record themselves for fun to discuss their favorite books, make stop motion videos of their favorite scenes, a how-to of them illustrating a character, acting out dialogue- Or any number of creative book-related ideas. If writing is more their style, have them start a book blog.
8. Organize a book swap.
Like many people, I have hard time letting go of books I own, even if they're just taking up shelf space and collecting dust. I'm nostalgic about the ones I read to my kids when they were little and hey, I might read that novel again! Maybe. But it's a little easier to let a book go knowing someone else will enjoy it, and a neighborhood book swap is great way of passing along old favorites and finding new ones.
9. Create a mini library.
Another great way to share books and discover new ones is by starting your own mini free library, if you have the space and funds to do so. Little Free Library has a starter's guide and step-by-step plans to get your little library going. Then check out their map of mini libraries to find one nearby.
10. Never leave the house without a book.
When in summer mode, it's not just kids that can let reading slip to the wayside, so the easiest way to keep reading is to always have a book nearby. Bring them to the pool, the playground, the waterpark. Put a stash of books in the car, in purses, in backpacks, in beach bags. Relax your standard and let kids pick whatever books they want. It doesn't have to be fine literature- What qualifies as fine literature is subjective anyway. Keep it easy and relaxed and enjoyable, exactly the way summer fun should be.