Raising Summer Readers Tip #12: Schedule a few social gatherings that celebrate books and summer reading

Shared reading experiences nurture a love of reading and, with good parent/adult support, can result in rich discussions that help comprehension and deep thinking. Tip#10 of last summer’s Summer Slide series advised parents to help their kids “make reading social”.  This could mean a variety of things, from helping kids join an online reading community to finding a book club for them to join, both of which kids might have more time for during the summer. If parents have the time, one fantastic way to make reading social is to schedule a few special reading gatherings 
that merge fun summer activities, friends, and reading. Try brainstorming with your kids possible ways to enjoy reading and books with their friends over the summer, so that kids are part of the planning.

Here are a few ideas for summer reading gatherings:

  • Host a summer reading kickoff party. Kids can share summer reading goals and plans, share “next reads” lists, make book bags (i.e., decorate canvas bags), and possibly even find a “reading friend” who might agree on a few common books to read and discuss ideas with over the summer.
  • Host a neighborhood backyard book swap, where everyone brings X number of already-read books to trade with friends.
  • Host several book clubs — they might be “mom and kid book clubs” or “BBQ and book nights” that involve the entire family. Serve snacks that relate to the book, if possible.
  • Invite friends over for a “book and movie night”, where the chosen book is one that has been made into a movie. If the book is a chapter book, guests should be asked to read the book ahead of time. If the book is a picture book (e.g., Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg or Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak), the picture book can be read aloud and the movie viewed at the event. For both, the host can encourage a discussion that compares the book to the movie and conduct a “which did you like better?” vote.
  • Invite several friends on a “read aloud picnic”, asking everyone to bring a favorite picture book.
  • Schedule a “Beach and Books” day, and invite a few friends.
  • Ask friends to come over with books they wish to donate, and together bring them to an organization that gives books to kids who need them.
  • Check out whether your local library has any special summer programs that your child can attend with a friend or two. Most libraries offer interactive summer events that celebrate reading, learning, authors, and creativity.

Find some ideas that are appealing for your family, and get some dates on the calendar as soon as possible. If you can, try to get the kids to help you with the preparations for the events. The conversations that happen around the planning make reading even more social than just the reading party itself. 

Please share any great ideas you might have for kid-friendly social readings gatherings over the summer!


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