Summer reading for kids: activities to prevent the summer slide. Some ideas for activities, field trips, and toys that can help promote reading over summer break. These are FUN ideas that your children will love!
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I love reading. As in, I once missed my bus stop as a child because I was 100% focused on reading a book and the bus driver had to drive me back home after she nearly went home with me. I helped out in the library. I just attacked books, even now. And reading has taken me on some amazing adventures. I work very hard to pass that love onto my sons. Right now they’re 2 and 4 years old so they can’t read themselves… but we have plenty of books memorized that they help “read” and we read books every single day.
And I have a book “problem” where I don’t see how there could possibly be anything so crazy as “too many books.” My children’s library is ridiculous and I have passed down some seriously ancient books from my childhood.
I know summer can be a hard time for parents to get their kids to do “schoolwork” though so I wanted to talk about some ways to make READING fun this summer.
Post originally published June 2016, updated June 2018
Educational Products for Summer Reading
I’m not going to get too much into educational toys to learn to read, mostly because I think the most educational “toy” you can get is a book. But there are a few toys that I’ve seen marketed that theoretically can help. My kids haven’t really done well with products like this though. I recommend trying a friend’s device to see if your kid will use/likes it before making the purchase.
What I like MUCH better than a toy is this monthly subscription box called “Story Box.” I received a free month to try and they sent the CUTEST books. Not only that, but they also sent a paper that detailed ideas for activities and discussion about each book. Help your kids discover reading and new books in a fun, fresh way with Storybox.
Below are the books we got for our trial. They are super cute, high quality books with a helpful printout included.
Get $6 off your first order by using this Storybox coupon link. Because really… what could be cooler than getting a monthly box filled with BOOKS!? I love the idea of getting kids excited about getting their own package- and having it be an educational item too!
Summer Reading List: Book Recommendations
I, of course, have younger kids so my book choices should theoretically be geared towards them. Theoretically. But I mix it up honestly because I just. can’t. wait. We very slowly read the first Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Version), as well as Swiss Family Robinson.
And recently, we’ve been listening to some books on audiobook in the car- when my kids are strapped in and a captive audience. We’ve listened to “The Secret Garden,” “The Little Princess,” and quite a few of the Percy Jackson books.My favorite books seem to be science fiction and fantasy, as well as really old “feel good” type of books… the classics that don’t suck the life out of your very soul (my 6th-9th grade teacher loved the soul sucking books).
I love listening to books that discuss how people lived prior to modern times… I think it’s good for kids to hear this and process that things weren’t always so simple. It’s also nice because we do a lot of these things at home and it stresses the importance of some of those tasks- ie. keeping a garden.
Needless to say, I love all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, “A Girl of the Limberlost” by Gene Stratton Porter (she has quite a few great books), and most of Scott O’Dell’s work (you’ll remember “Island of the Blue Dolphins”).
Here are a couple of other posts I’ve done that are book related:
Educational Summer Reading Activities
Here’s a list of ideas for activities you can do with your child to encourage them to read and write- without harassing them too much.
- Read a play and act it out. You can find simple short plays online for younger kids. It doesn’t need to be complicated.
- Read together. This is particularly helpful with younger kids. Take turns reading one page each. or take turns reading the text for particular characters (for example, my husband likes to be Elephant and I’m Piggie for the Mo Willems books). It’s a lot more fun that way.
- Have older siblings read to younger siblings.
- Encourage your child to start a journal and write about their experiences. I really recommend a happy journal or something that is focused on good things in their life. You can also help them by giving them writing prompts each day.
- For younger children, you can take alphabet blocks or magnets and play at making new words with them.
- Create a book with your child. Have them write a story and illustrate it. You can even give them a topic to write about- while working as a therapist, I’ve had clients write a story about a character that learns to deal with their anger, for example. Super motivated? Get it bound at the store. An older child could actually put together a real book with some adult help and self publish, particularly if they are artistic. It’s not terribly hard or expensive.
- Read a book, then have a movie night to watch the movie. Discuss the differences between the book and movie, vote on which was better.
- Start a book club for the kids with their friends. Meet once a month to discuss their book… with a sleepover, special book-related food (this would be fun with the Harry Potter books!), and other relevant activities.
- Make your own audiobooks! This is super fun and if you have an older children with young siblings, this would be a fun thing to do with the older child as a gift for the younger one. I wrote a post about How to Make Your Own Audiobooks and you don’t need any special equipment- you can just use your smart phone.
Educational Summer Reading Field Trips
The Library: Most libraries seem to have a lot of summer activities planned. Ours has a reading program and the kids can get a prize for finishing all of the tasks on the list. It is absolutely amazing. They also have reading hours and classes for kids.
Love, love, love having the library as a great field trip with the kids. We try to make it every two weeks to pick up new books. Don’t forget to hit up both the non fiction and the fiction section. Let the kids read about things they’re interested in. Pick out an educational non fiction book that you think they might like. There are some neat books about where food, clothing, and other products come from that describe the production process. They aren’t books my kids would necessarily pick out themselves, but they love reading them with us.
Volunteer to Read: You and your children can volunteer to read. This is a great way to help and connect to others while practicing your reading out loud. And it’s public speaking practice. I’m guessing they’re are some summer preschool programs that would appreciate the help, possibly the library, and of course senior citizen centers or homes.
Audiobooks for Car Rides: While this isn’t a reading “field trip,” I listen to audiobooks on car rides with my kids. It’s a great way to get their undivided attention to a longer book and also to make a long trip more interesting. Our library has a way to borrow audiobooks electronically, but the app (axis360) is really terrible. Normally I’d recommend the free route, but it was restarting chapters and sending me back to the wrong spots in the book. It’s not convenient when you’re trying to drive (or safe to mess with it). It also is a fairly short rental and it automatically returns it at the end of that period. Which is super frustrating when you’re so. close. to the end of the book.
A better option is to just borrow the audiobooks from the library (CD format) or to get a subscription for Audible (via Amazon: Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks)! I have had good luck with Audible in the past. I used to listen to so. many. books. on my commutes to and from work (I’ve worked a few jobs where I was commuting for 2-3 hours a day). We may sign up again because my husband and I like to listen to audiobooks together. I like it better than books on CD from the library because I hate switching CDs and I don’t like being stuck listening to the book only in the car. If you sign up below, you can try the service and get two free audiobooks to start. That may very well get your child through the summer. It’s $15/month for one book after that which I think is a little steep so you may want to cancel at that point. But you can keep the two audiobooks you already downloaded.
Don’t forget to check out my post: Summer Break Science that your kids will love!
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