As parents, we all know how important it is for our children to read well and often. Some of my own kids have been reluctant readers, though, and trying to keep them motivated and interested in reading can be a giant and stressful task.
If kids don’t read over the long summer break, they can experience what experts call the “summer slide” – a significant decrease in reading ability over the summer months. I’m already developing a plan for my kids so that they not only become more fluent readers, but also get to know some great books this summer!
Here are a few tips and strategies to keep your reluctant readers excited about reading.
Book Clubs When my oldest daughter was eleven, I signed her up for a tween book club at our local library. I was worried that she may not be able to keep up with the pace, but the encouragement and accountability of a group was just what she needed. That club was the catalyst for a big jump in her reading level and her love for books. Most public libraries offer summer book clubs for kids. If you can’t find one, consider starting your own!
Audiobooks My son was a late reader. In his elementary years, getting him to sit down with a book was a continual battle. However, I realized that he would sit for hours while listening to an audiobook. Even kids who are good readers can understand books that are too difficult for them to read, and audiobooks are a great way to introduce kids to great literature. My son especially enjoyed the Chronicles of Narnia series from Focus on the Family Radio Theater.
Incentive Programs All of my kids have loved using an online program called Book Adventure over the summer months. After they create a free account, kids can accumulate points for books that they’ve read by taking quizzes. Some of my children, who are naturally competitive, have found the point system to be highly motivating. They enjoy setting goals for themselves and seeing their list of books grow.
Bible Study One of my daughters especially loves to spend time reading God’s Word. One way I can encourage that habit in all of my kids is to actively read and discuss the Bible with them. Sometimes I purchase a Bible study, and sometimes we just follow a reading plan. Making Bible reading part of the daily schedule this summer is a win for everyone.
Encouraging a reluctant reader can be hard work, but it’s always worth it in the end. Summertime, with no homework and more leisure hours, is the perfect opportunity to try to develop a love for the written word, for great literature, and for the Bible.