Keeping minds active while trying to fill those long summer days can be a challenge. But help is at hand! Chief Executive of The Reading Agency, Sue Wilkinson, tells us the simple steps we can take to keep kids interested in books over the holidays.
Trying to keep kids busy and entertained over the summer holidays can often be stressful, and lots of us want our children to stay engaged with reading throughout the summer. At The Reading Agency, we know that the Summer Reading Challenge is an ideal way to get kids into books throughout the summer. The scheme is available at 95% of library authorities across Scotland, England and Wales and so the best advice we give parents and carers in the summer is take your children to the library and enrol them in the challenge. It will ensure they have access to lots of different books and great support; they will see other children reading and they will be able to access a range of incentives designed to keep them reading. In addition, here‘s our 5-step guide to getting and keeping your children reading this summer:
1. Start small
Summers are for fun; some children might not imagine books being a part of their dream summer holiday, and that’s ok. Start off with something small, like magazines, comics, or graphic novels. This will let your child know that reading doesn’t have to mean long dense texts, and they should only read what they enjoy in their spare time. Practising with shorter materials that they enjoy will give your child the confidence to read more. Research has shown that letting children choose their own books is an effective way to create lifelong readers. If your child is in need of inspiration, the Summer Reading Challenge website has a great Book Sorter tool to help your child pick the perfect book, recommended by other children.
2. Be a reading role model
Children often mimic the behaviours of older role models, so why not pick up a book to motivate your child? Reading will also benefit you: research indicates that 38% of people in the UK find reading to be a good remedy for stress. Our own research has found that 91% of Brits think reading can have a positive effect on mental health and wellbeing. Like with kids, content is key for adults too. We did some research and found that 54% of Brits are stuck reading the same book, which stops them from reading any more. If you’re struggling for good material, why not pick up a quick read from your local library?
3. Have a chat
Discussing what you’re both reading will bring the words to life and help start conversations with your child. Children appreciate it when you take an interest in them and their reading should be no different. Talking about things with your child will also allow you to explore new perspectives and process what they read. A book has the ability to unlock a child’s imagination and allow them to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Build on that. Learn what your child sees.
4. Get their friends in on it
Like most people, children don’t want to feel like the odd ones out. So, make reading something that they can do with their friends. Have a chat with some of the parents at your school to see how they’d feel about library “play-dates”. You can take your child, a friend, and perhaps a parent to your local library to pick out books. Lots of libraries organise activities over the summer, which are a great way to motivate your child to read whilst also building friendships before the start of the new school year.
5. Make it a routine
It’s often hard to change or build a new habit. Why not set aside 15 minutes for reading every day over the summer, for both you and your child? Work it into their routine, a good time might be before dinner so you can discuss what they’ve read during your meal. If you have a particularly busy schedule (like lots of parents do these days!), why not listen to books whilst in the car? Your child can follow along with the physical book and you can still talk to them about the story and characters.
Go to your local library to sign up or find out more on the Summer Reading Challenge website.