Homes are typically full of so many options that compete with reading — options that for most kids, except the most avid readers, often take priority and leave little room for sustained reading (especially with all of the technology that kids have access to nowadays). Likewise, outside-the-home experiences during the summer typically are not linked with reading either. Put together, it can be difficult to yield a recipe for sustained summer reading. One effective way to add some reading into kids’ summer is to identify a regular “summer reading place” outside your home where you can go with your kids to read. Pick a place with few distractions, where an expectation can be set that for xx number of minutes, the sole purpose of being there is to read or write. The place should be somewhere the kids look forward to going, and it is even better if there is somehow a treat built into the experience. A few possibilities include:
- visiting a coffee house, with the treat being a bakery item or hot chocolate to accompany the kids while they read
- Reading under a favorite shady tree at a park, with a special goody packed from home
- going out for ice cream in their PJs, with a family read-aloud while everyone indulges
While your kids will hopefully read in many outside-the-home locations over the summer, the one special “summer reading place”, where only reading occurs, should be the same spot every time. This is most effective when kids have learned “that’s just what our family does there, we go to XX to read and write.” Plan ahead for these reading outings, and many kids will start to look forward to them, and even ask on their own to go!
In Our Family… My two readers will tell you they learned to read at The Lost Bean (our local coffee house), during the 45 minutes of alone time they each had during their kindergarten year before “late bird” drop-off. After each of their kinder years, I haven’t found much time to bring them there during the school years, but when I have, they associate it with reading a book or writing in a journal, and a “kid hot chocolate with whipped cream”.
Over the last couple of years, The Lost Bean has become my family’s special “summer reading place”. This became especially evident this summer. It had been months since they had done any reading there; I think the last time was winter break. On the first day of their summer, the day after school had gotten out, the first thing my daughter asked upon waking up was “Can we go to the Lost Bean to start our summer journals?” After getting a ‘yes’, they all grabbed what they needed (a book, their journal, the laptop) and headed over for about 40 minutes of reading, writing, and hot chocolate. A great start to summer, and a perfect way to start the morning (I get in my coffee, they get in their reading)! We decided we’d aim to visit our summer reading place once/week during the summer.
Does your family have any special summer reading places? I’d love to hear about it if you do!