How to Encourage Reading During the Summer
The beginning of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of reading for children who may not voluntarily pick up a book outside of school. An American Family Children’s Hospital pediatrician has tips for keeping kids engaged after the school year’s final bell rings.
“There are strategies for integrating reading into a child’s life, no matter how young or old they are,” said Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, pediatrician and director of University of Wisconsin Pediatric Early Literacy Projects, which includes the clinic-based Reach Out and Read program and the American Family Children’s Hospital Inpatient Reading Library.
Navsaria, who also has a master’s degree in library science, said the most successful strategies introduce reading at an early age, integrate it into children’s everyday lives and, most importantly, make it fun.
Set expectations for reading
Navsaria recommends that parents put reading on a priority list and set daily expectations for reading. “Expectations for reading don’t have to be any different than those for bathing and brushing teeth,” said Navsaria.
Continue to read aloud with your children, even after they’ve learned how to read
Pre-literacy skills, like learning the alphabet, usually develop by the age of five, and kids begin reading by themselves after that. From the ages of five to nine, children solidify their literacy skills.
“At that point in child development, there are many opportunities to cement their reading and word comprehension skills,” said Navsaria. “One of the most effective ways to do that is to read aloud and interact with them about the story in engaging and fun ways.”
Pressed for time? Recruit older siblings to read with their younger brothers and sisters. As for teenagers who don’t think it’s cool to read with their parents, Navsaria has some advice.
“Hand them books along with companion audio books on subjects and topics that they enjoy.”
Give children opportunities to read
Navsaria says there are countless ways to provide opportunities for children to read. He suggests family trips to the library and staying in touch with what your children like to read.
“If they enjoy reading a particular book, find out if it’s part of a series of books,” said Navsaria. “You can also ask a librarian to suggest books that are similar—your local public librarian is an amazing resource.”