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Summer can be such a busy and exciting time—swimming, camps, vacation, summer reading events at the library. In fact, summer can be so busy that reading can get lost in the shuffle.
Here are some strategies to keep reading a part of your busy family life:
Multi-tasking Mom (and Dad) – Make time for reading for yourself! Parents who read have kids who read. Check out a few paperbacks to read at the beach. And if you don’t have time for the traditional beach read, try multitasking—download an audiobook from Hoopla or Overdrive to your smartphone and listen while you drive, watch the kids, or cook dinner.
Reading routines – Bedtime stories are a perfect example of including reading in your daily routine. Try asking the kids to read you a story for a change. You can also incorporate reading into other routines. Try reading bath-, beach- or water-themed books during bath time. Do you enjoy family movie night? Read a related story together before or after the video. Going on a car trip? Check out some audiobooks you can all enjoy together during the trip.
Act it out – Make reading part of playtime. Try reading and acting out a simple story together. Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggy books are great for this. Let the kids assign parts and put on a show.
Think outside the (fiction) box – Try different genres based on your kids’ interests and incorporate reading into their favorite activities. Is your kid a joker? Try joke books. Do you have a budding superhero in the house? Try (age-appropriate) comic books. Do you have an artist on your hands? Try art instruction books and artist’s biographies. Are your kids into dinosaurs? Do they want to build robots? Travel in space? Be the next MasterChef? There are books for every interest.
Backseat buddies – I keep books in the backseat of the car for the kids. This gives them a way to entertain themselves while I chauffer them around. Sometimes my oldest reads me a story while I’m driving.
Campfire stories – Sometimes we camp out, and sometimes we just pretend to camp out in the living room. (The boys like eating marshmallows whether we’re actually roasting them or just sticking them on drinking straws and holding them next to the camp lantern.) This is another great opportunity—no electronic distractions, and reading spooky stories by flashlight is just so much more, well, spooky.
If you can’t beat them, join them – If your kids would rather watch a video, roll with it. Turn on the closed captions so they can read along. Hearing the words spoken while they’re reading helps to reinforce learning. And if they enjoy playing on a mobile device, try interactive e-books and reading apps like TumbleBook. And don’t stop there—find library books about the movies, games, and characters they love to enhance the experience. I’ve found that my son will voluntarily stop playing Minecraft long enough to read a book about Minecraft.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun with it. If you and your kids enjoy reading now, you’re well on your way to raising life-long readers.