How to Create a Summer Reading Program for Children

Over the summer your children will experience reading skill loss if they do not read often. This can hinder their learning when the school year begins in the fall. In some cases this skill loss can be as much as 60%! If your child has worked hard all year to improve his or her reading, don’t let the hard work go to waste. Encourage your children to become avid readers through a summer reading program. If your local library does not sponsor a program, you can create your own.  Here are a few tips on how to create your own summer reading program. You can be extremely creative or just keep it simple–as long as the program motivates your children to read.

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Step 1: Determine how long you would like the program to run.  Two months is a good length of time and it will cover the majority of the summer. The starting point could be the first of June and the ending date could be the first of August (or you can extend it all the way through the start of school).

Step 2: Determine how much time you want your child to read each day. A good standard is about 30 minutes. This can be reading to him or herself or to someone out loud.  Older siblings could read to younger ones or you could have your child read to you. If your child is too young to read, set a time to read to your child daily.

Step 3: Create your rewards system. Here is an example for younger children. Depending on the skill level, you can focus on pages or books.

For children under 11 you could use the following system:
Stage 1: 5 books or 150 pages = Prize Level 1
Stage 2: 10 books or 250 pages = Prize Level 2
Stage 3: 15 books or 400 pages = Prize Level 3
Stage 4: 20 books or 500 pages = Prize Level 4
Bonus prizes could be awarded after original target has been reached.

It is a cumulative system, so for every 5 books you can award your child with a special treat such as 30 minutes of extra video game time, a trip to the toy store for a $5 gift, or a favorite dessert. The pages are cumulative, but for this design it is more about the total number of pages rather than reading  a certain number at each level.

You could also include other families in your neighborhood. Work with the parents to establish a “prize pool” and designate someone to track the reading progress. At the end of the summer you could all chip in for an ultimate prize drawing and raffle off the prize by giving children the opportunity to win submissions throughout the summer through various reading activities.

Step 4: Purchase the awards in advance if possible. You could even allow your children to help decide what they want to work towards.  If it is something you can’t purchase early, make certificates to symbolize what your child wants to achieve. For example it could be a day at Six Flags, or a special ice cream treat, or a set time of television watching you could draw a coupon or create one on your computer.

Step 5: Create a tracking system. You can simply use a note pad to have your child keep track of their reading progress. Each week, they can report to you what they have read and you can translate that into the prize or let them know how much further they have before reaching the next prize level.

2010 Summer Reading Program Reading Progress Log

Step 6: Read! Work to establish a time each day for quite reading time. If everyone in the house is reading then it won’t seem like a chore, but rather a great family experience.

Step 7: Enjoy the program you have created and work with your children to make sure the system is motivating them. If your children are older you can let them take leadership of the program with your oversight.  They may not realize they are learning more than simply keeping up on their reading skills!

NOTE: Make sure you have plenty of reading material on hand. You can check books out of the library, borrow books from your neighbors (do a book swap), or purchase books at Biggerbooks, Barnes and Noble, Meijer, or Amazon. You can also look for books at flea markets or yard and rummage sales.

Do you have any literacy ideas to share? We would love to hear from you.

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About Jeremy

Jeremy represents a husband and wife team working together to establish a quick, visual guide to assist others in ordinary tasks. Together they are the founders and editors of this site. In short, with their experiences combined, they are a jack-of-all-trades. For further information visit His and Hers DIY | About.

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