How to make summer reading fun

Jonathan Douglas, CEO of the National Literacy Trust, shares his top tips for helping you get your children excited about reading over the holidays.    

Jonathan Douglas
A photo of a mother and her daughter laying on the ground in their garden under a makeshift tent, reading a book
Image: Getty

If your child could do anything this summer, what would it be? Walk with dinosaurs, embark on a treasure hunt with pirates, propel themselves into outer space, or maybe play for their favourite football team in a cup final? Anything is possible — when you find the right book!

National Literacy Trust research shows that when children enjoy reading, they do better at school, but if they stop reading over the long summer break, their reading skills might start to slide.

We’ve put together our top tips for helping children to enjoy reading over the holidays, and stay in love with it this summer.

1. Make time to read

If your child is younger, try to read a bedtime story with them every night during the holidays. If they’re older and prefer reading independently, why not have designated family reading time when you all sit down with your preferred reading material? Just 10 minutes of reading a day can make a difference, so little and often works best.

2. Let your child choose what to read

Your child is more likely to develop a love of reading if they are able to choose the books they read with you. Join your local library for free and your child can pick from a wide selection of books that suit their interests and hobbies, or feature their favourite sports teams, bands, hobbies, or films. You’ll also be able to sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge at your local library!

3. Don’t be worried about reading on screens

Recent National Literacy Trust research suggests that reading on screens could actually be a great way to help reluctant readers, especially boys, become more interested in reading. Most phones and tablets have free apps for reading, and eBooks are also a good option and are widely available. You can also read extracts online which are great if your avid reader is trying to decide which story to read next!

4. Get family or friends involved

Encourage your child to read with other family members including their grandparents, brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles. You could even team up with other local parents and start a book club for your child and their friends!

5. Create fun reading challenges at home

On an inevitable British summertime rainy day, you could organise a treasure hunt around the house (start practising your map drawing now). Or give your child a list of things to find and see how quickly they can read the list and collect all the items. You could also create a reading checklist with different books to read every day. For example, day one: read a book about horses, day two: read a comic book, day three: read outside, and so on.

6. Be positive

Praise your child for trying to read, especially if they are a less confident reader. Let them know it’s alright to make mistakes and that it’s ok to read at a different pace to their friends or siblings. The main thing is that they are enjoying the story.

7. Be a reading role model

Your child learns from you, so seeing you enjoying and valuing books can be a great inspiration. Ensuring your home is filled with different types of reading material; going out together to buy books, and just generally talking to your child about the kinds of stories you like to read or read as a child yourself, are all great ways to encourage a love of reading!

Visit the National Literacy Trust’s Words for Life website for more ideas and activities to get your child reading all year round.

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