In Tip #3, I suggested that your child create a specific stack of “next reads” (i.e., on an end table or in a special basket) to help keep reading momentum going in between books. Another way to nurture regular summer reading is to help your kids integrate it into their summer activities, so that it’s actually viewed as part of their summer fun. If reading can happen while at the beach, on a hike, or at a picnic in the park, it it more likely to become part of the fabric of kids’ summer lives, rather than an after-thought that may or may not happen at the end of a busy day in the sun (at which point it often gets skipped or forgotten).
A fun and super-easy (and inexpensive) beginning-of-summer craft can be to make summer book bags with your kids. All you need is a plain canvas bag (which come in various sizes and styles and are likely available at your local arts and crafts store) and some fabric markers (which come in regular, puffy, spray paint). Three ways to use these bags are:
- for reading in the car while in transit to summer fun (one of the best times to promote summer reading because you have a captive audience — turn off that DVD player some of the time!)
- as a personalized “fill-up bag” at the library — give each child the mission of filling up their own bag!
- for just about any summer excursion!
Find a location (perhaps near your door) for kids to keep their bags so they are easy to grab on the way out, and remind your kids to regularly trade out the books in the bags. As always, when parents get involved too, the buy-in is usually greater — so you might even join in the book-making fun with your kids and make yourself a bag! And make sure your kids see you using it!
For additional fun, invite a few friends over for a “summer book bag making party” And, if your kids are still looking for a way to document their summer reading, maybe they would be excited to use a side of their book bag to record titles of books read or places where reading occurred during the summer.
In Our Family… My kids still have last year’s summer book bags, but no one was excited about them anymore. So, we decided to make “summer book bag making” a beginning of summer tradition for our family so that they could have fresh updated ones for the current summer. The kids chose to change up the style of their bags from last year (a smaller purse-like tote for my daughter, canvas backpacks for the boys), and they all made new bags that they are eager to put to use. At $2-$10 per bag, this seems justifiable!
These bags remind the kids to take their books along. They also send the message that taking books along is something that we do in the summer. And doing it is important enough that it merits a special bag!