Promoting reading skills while wearing flip-flops: Mixing up the routine this summer (part 1)

To keep things fresh and generate excitement around books, we all know it takes a commitment by the adults in the house. So first pat yourself on the back for all you’ve done all year to help promoting reading skills, and then dive in and try to make summer reading at your house a “day at the beach”!

Promoting reading skills: First, the quick reminder: 

Why do children need to read/be read to all summer?

Because all that extra time hearing and talking about books – and practice reading on their own when they learn to read — can help them:

  • become more automatic with word reading and improve fluency,
  • build their understanding of text structure and different genres and how books work,
  • increase their vocabularies and advance their conceptual knowledge, and
  • develop confidence around reading so when they come across hard passages in the future, they take them on with gusto.

And now — what can you do to mix it up?

You know you need a time and place for reading to create routines at home, but what can you do so it doesn’t feel like a school-year routine imposed on carefree summer days?

  1. Find a time every day that you can call reading time, but that doesn’t feel routine.

Example: Try a “reading breakfast” every day all summer. Assuming reading books at the table isn’t the norm at your house, it could be particularly appealing. And when you say, “Grab your books for the family reading breakfast,” and make clear that this is what we [insert your family name] do, you are establishing your family’s priorities around reading, and helping define what your family is all about. Little ones usually respond well to that kind of group effort when everyone is all-in.

In terms of practicality, when there are non-readers and readers at your breakfast table, you’ll need to put lots of board books and maybe extra finger foods in front of the youngest ones, and then see how it goes. When everybody (you included) is looking at books, you might be surprised at how even the non-readers “read,” too. Remember that even a 15-minute breakfast read-a-thon builds critical eyes-to-print time into the day, encourages excitement, and might mean you feel less pressure to give them a marathon reading session before bed :).

  1. Mix up the place to make it feel less like work and more like summer.

Example: For this week’s summer reading spot, make a tent in the house somewhere and bring flashlights. Take turns deciding where the week’s special reading spot will be, and talk about what makes a good spot for reading. Chances are the activity itself will begin to have a fun-summer feel to it, which will give reading more positive attention, and build your family’s reading culture.

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