Everybody agrees that summertime is a great time to encourage reading in our kids. It keeps them busy, avoiding the cry of boredom that is the bane of every mother’s summertime existence. It keeps them learning. It enhances their reading skills so that they are not lacking come September.
Last year, we joined our local library’s reading club. It was well-organized but frankly, the dollar store prizes were not motivating at all for our kids beyond the first week or two.
Some families don’t have trouble encouraging reading in their homes. Having a houseful of dyslexics means that, for most of my kids, reading is a CHORE. It is decoding every other word and it is exhausting. So for them to be motivated to push through to finish a book, let alone really enjoy a book, not only does the book need to be a good fit (which I will write about later) but there needs to be some solid outside motivation.
Reasons for starting your own summer reading club:
If your kids are happy with the local library summer reading club – great! I encourage you to enjoy it. Maybe you are experiencing some conflict such as:
- No library nearby
- Only one car so no transportation
- Scheduling conflicts, etc.
- Library reading club not a good fit for your kids ages/personality
Starting your own personalized summer reading club isn’t as daunting as it may seem.
Goals for our summer reading club:
Setting up some goals at the beginning is always a good idea so progress can be realistically evaluated. My goals this summer are:
- Inspire my kids to read (without nagging)
- Improve my kids’ reading skills
- Keep scholastic momentum – avoiding the summer slide
- Implement a simple program that is easy to run
Individualized Summer Reading Goals
Since I have a wide age range in my home – 15, 14, 9, 8, 5, & 3 – I needed to be creative in how I set up our summer reading club.
Having a competition between siblings wasn’t going to work because they are all at very different levels of ability. This meant that counting pages read or number of books finished was not going to inspire healthy competition rather comparison and other bad feelings! For this reason, I made the criteria for earning prizes time spent reading rather than pages or books completed.
A Note on the Dyslexic Reader
Remember when I mentioned earlier in this post that when a dyslexic kids reads, it is a chore? When there is a lack of fluency in a child’s reading, such as is often the case with the younger dyslexic child, reading is not a natural, relaxing endeavor as it may be for the more competent reader. This is why it is important to choose books for these kids that are at there independent reading level (books that can be read without help with 90% efficiency). Reading fluency comes with much practice. Your child’s independent reading level may be quite a bit lower than their instructional level (the level that you are working on while teaching reading).
All this to say that it is okay if your child chooses what may appear to be ‘babyish’ books for reading pleasure. Any and all time spent reading with these kids is excellent and is never time wasted! If you have a child who resists reading books at their independent level because they seem ‘babyish’ have them read the book to a younger sibling or look for abridged classics like the Great Illustrated Classics series. These books are written at a lower reading level yet maintain the excellent and compelling story lines of the unabridged versions.
Setting up Your Summer Reading Club
Create a simple document with the kids’ names across the top (or download a few of the ones I created by clicking the image below).
Along the left-side margin, write the date.
Keep track of time read. My kids are keeping a 3X5 card with times read for each day – using it a bit like a book mark. At the end of the day, enter the time read into the into chart. If you want a record of which books your kids have read, write (or have them write) the titles as well in the space provided. It can be inspiring for your kids to see the growing list of books they have read over the summer months.
Dollar store prizes may work with some ages but in our family, not so much. I am into keeping life simple and although I don’t mind rewarding them for their reading time, with 6 kids in the club, this could get crazy expensive in no time! Here are some ideas for inexpensive and free rewards to get you thinking.
Print up some prize cards with a variety of rewards on them:
- get out of dishes free
- 30 minutes of (extra) electronics time
- 1 song from iTunes
- sleep in late
- stay up late
- date with mom
- date with dad
If our younger kids (grade 5 and lower) read for 30 minutes per day or 3 hours per week (or whatever time you have set for your family), they can choose a prize card on Sunday. Our older kids will need to read for 1 hour per day to earn a reward at the end of the week.
You can print your own reward cards or print up mine by clicking the images below. Note that one card is left blank so you can add whatever prize is more relevant to your kids.
Reading Club Reward Cards
The Fine Print
This post is just one way to organize your own summer reading book club. Be creative and make the club fit your family. You could include neighbor kids, you could have an individual goal for each of your own kids depending on their strengths and needs such as ‘If you read 25 books this summer, you will earn a bonus of fill-in-the-blank.
Other ideas for bonus points could be a reward for or points towards a larger, end-of-the-summer reward:
- every book finished
- listening to an audio book
- reading to a younger sibling
Whether you decide to create your own summer reading book club or join the club at your local library – make sure you get your kids into the written word this summer!
How are you encouraging summer reading in your home?