Whether your library isn’t yet hosting one or you’d simply like to do more on your own, here’s how to have your own summer reading program at home to encourage reading all summer long.
(Includes resources for finding FREE summer reading prizes!)
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One of the best ways to combat the dreaded, and all-too-real, “summer slide” (aka summer learning loss) is encouraging your kids to read throughout the summer. And summer reading programs at your local public library are fantastic resources for this. Between reading incentives, fun activities, and engaging storytimes, these programs are great for cultivating literacy in kids.
But some libraries aren’t hosting reading programs yet this summer, and maybe yours is one of them. Or maybe you’re not comfortable with them yet. Maybe, like me, you live some distance from the library and it’s just not convenient or feasible to get there as often as you’d like. Or maybe you simply want to do your own thing and/or supplement what your local library is doing.
Whatever your situation, here’s how to have your own summer reading program at home!
How to Have Your Own Summer Reading Program At Home
Here are some ideas to bring the fun, learning, and motivation of a summer reading program right to your very own home:
Choose a theme
This is completely optional — you certainly don’t have to have a theme to have fun with your at-home summer reading program. (Full disclosure: I am not that kind of mom.) But if you love a good themed activity, let your creativity loose and have a blast with this!
Possible ideas: space, super heroes, animals, colors, Wild West, math & science, world-changers/movers & shakers, exploration, art & music, nature, geography, etc.
Make a summer reading bucket list
At the start of your “program”, make a list together with your kids of some of the books they want to read or books you want to read together.
This list isn’t set in stone — you don’t have to stick to it. But it will at least give you some ideas to start, and having a to-read list will keep your reading momentum going.
Set reading goals
First, decide if you want to set goals by pages, minutes, or books read. There’s no right answer — there are pros and cons of each! Consider your kids’ ages and what will best motivate them to challenge themselves while also reading for enjoyment.
Then, set a combination of small, frequent “checkpoint” goals and larger goals that will take more time and effort to achieve.
One important note:
Encourage your kids not to get too hung up on the goals or stress over them. They are purely an incentive to read. The goals themselves are not the objective; the real aim is encouraging your kids to read and to nurture a love for reading.
Gather an assortment of prizes
Have a list and stash of prizes, ranging from small rewards for the “checkpoint” goals to more substantial prizes for the larger goals.
Include a mix of physical prizes:
- Dollar Tree toys
- Art supplies/stickers
- Play-Doh or slime
- Bubble wands
- Special outings
- Going out to eat
- An activity they love
If you’re trying to keep your budget low, there are plenty of free prizes you can include, as well:
- Extra screen time
- “Special helper” privileges
- Being in charge for the day
- “Get out of one chore free” card
There are some great online programs out there that will provide you with summer reading prizes for FREE!
Play “Reading Bingo”
For something fun and different, create a bingo card with a variety of reading challenges, such as reading from a new genre, rereading a book they’ve read before, reading a classic, reading to a friend or sibling, reading to a parent, listening to an audiobook, etc. (See below for a free BINGO card!)
Offer prizes for 5 in a row, four corners, around the world, blackouts, etc. This has the potential to be a ton of fun, and will encourage your kids to read outside of their normal book box!
Want a FREE Reading Challenge Bingo printable?
Sign up for The Merry Mommas Club to get it!
Find related crafts & activities
Pinterest and Google are your friends for this! I’m SO not the crafty mom type, but even I’ve found some fun and easy book-themed activities. Search by book title or genre to find crafts and activities that relate to what you’re reading.
Watch online storytimes
There are TONS of online storytimes available around the country. If your library isn’t hosting any yet, or you don’t feel comfortable attending, this is a great alternative!
Virtual Story Hours:
Do it in community
If you’re comfortable, gather your kids together with their friends to talk about what books they’re reading. You could even do a book swap, where each child lends a favorite book to a friend for a week or two.
SHARE WITH US: Did you do any kind of summer reading program at home? Would you consider it? Share your thoughts, advice, and experience in the comments below!
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