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Summer Reading Strategies for the Family

After a long school year filled with tests and homework assignments, most kids are looking forward to warm weather and an extended break from the classroom. With less daily structure and a newly discovered abundance of free time, many kids are inclined to spend their time playing video games or using other forms of digital media, but it’s critical for them to continue learning while on break. One great way to expand your kid’s horizons is through a summer reading program! Kathy Shahbodaghi, Public Services Director for youth services at Columbus Metropolitan Library, has some helpful techniques for keeping your kids engaged and interested in reading.

Value a Variety of Reading Behaviors

While there’s nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned book, parents should feel free to think outside the box when it comes to children and reading. “Books like novels or chapter books, they’re not the only kind of reading that counts. So comics or graphic novels – which are a form of comics, magazines and listening to a book on CD, those all count as reading too,” says Shahbodaghi. This strategy could be particularly helpful for parents with kids who may not be drawn to picking up a book voluntarily.

Know Your Kid’s Interests

Non-fiction or books based on a true story might be the spark your kid needs to develop an interest in reading. Knowing what your kids enjoy should make the process of finding them reading materials a much easier and more successful process. “Lots of kids, especially boys, want to read about the subjects they’re interested in, whether it’s dinosaurs or a sports hero or motocross; they want to read those kinds of books and we have them at the public library,” says Shahbodaghi.

Get Stuck in a Series

There are many popular series books available for kids, and they serve as a great method for keeping them interested in reading for an extended period of time. When kids know that they have more reading to look forward to at the conclusion of a book, it makes it easier for them to stay engaged instead of focusing on the digital or gaming distractions that are right at their fingertips.

Make Any Assigned Reading a Family Project

Some schools assign students summer reading to help keep them academically engaged as they progress to the next grade. Students are more likely to complete assigned reading when they have the support of family, according to Shahbodaghi. Taking steps like reading some of the pages aloud with your student, making sure they get an early start on the book and breaking up the reading into small chunks can help your student finish their assignments and make the process more enjoyable.

Take Advantage of Local Library Programs

Many public libraries offer summer reading programs and resources that make reading both manageable and fun for kids and for every member of the family. “Columbus Metropolitan Library rewards everybody for reading,” says Shahbodaghi. Kids earn rewards for reading, writing short book reviews and attending library events. Parents can replicate some of these strategies at home if they aren’t able to register their kids in a summer reading program at the library.

Additional Tips and Tools

  • Visit libraries or book stores and let kids pick out their own materials
  • Set aside time for the family to read as a group
  • Give your child a day or two off occasionally to prevent reading burnout

For more information on reading or to sign up for Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Summer Reading Club, visit columbuslibrary.org/summerreadingclub or stop in any location. The program runs June 3 through August 5.