Published: 06:00, 29 July 2021
| Updated: 09:49, 02 August 2021
School's out for summer! But among the time spent in front of the TV, gaming, enjoying days out and too many treats and ice creams how do you encourage the kids to still pick up a book occasionally?
After the last year there's no doubt we all need the welcome downtime the summer holidays can bring, but if you'd like to avoid a summer slump when it comes to their reading progress, we've some expert tips that might help.
1. Ring-fence reading
The summer holidays are bound to be busy, but 10 to 15 minutes of reading with your child every day is one of the best ways you can help them with any learning over the summer, says Oxfordowl.co.uk
Alongside the educational benefits, a regular 10 minutes of storytime can provide much needed respite from more hectic plans. Ask questions and discuss tricky vocabulary, suggests the website from Oxford University Press, but don't be afraid to just get lost in a story too because helping a child to enjoy reading is an important goal in itself.
2. Take turns
Whatever age and level of reading fluency your child is at, they’ll enjoy and benefit from both reading aloud to you and hearing you read to them.
Reading to an adult can develop their word reading but being read to helps build their understanding, show them what expressive reading sounds like and lets them simply enjoy a story. If for any reason they're not keen to read aloud one day, avoid pushing the point because reading to them can be just as beneficial.
3. Play Book Bingo!
If children like a particular type of book and that’s all they want to read it won’t do them any harm - and if they enjoy a story they're more likely to read it says Booktrust. Just like all of us, as they grow older, their tastes will change and they’ll move on to something else.
However if you're keen to try and broaden your child's reading palette try a game of Book Bingo. Over the course of the summer children can be challenged to read six different types of book. These could include a novel, a non-fiction book, some poetry, a picture book, an old favourite or something they wouldn’t normally choose.
4. Build a fun place to read
A cosy reading nook can be an overlooked but essential aspect for boosting reading time and a love for books in all children, suggests education expert Richard Evans from online tutor directory The Profs.
He said: "Find a piece of heaven in your house where your kids can disconnect from all other distractions and discover the world of books. If you don’t have one, improvise: a room corner, the terrace, the attic, a windowsill, or simply a comfy armchair by the bookshelves with a reading table and a lampshade. Anything will do for a dedicated reading space if it is comfortable, quiet, and away from disruptions."
And if you're really struggling to find somewhere suitable - encourage the kids to get creative and construct their own den.
5. Bath, book, bed
Before bed is often the best time to implement reading, particularly during the school break when days can be hectic. Books before bedtime can create a calm routine alongside getting little minds ready for sleep.
Setting a small goal every night – such as several chapters or a set amount of time for older children or a quick succession of short stories to maintain interest and suspense for little ones might help. As with most things - finding a routine means that you're most likely to stick at something.
6. Read the room
Flicking through a newspaper, following a recipe in a cookery book, reading the TV listings from the television before picking a programme - reading comes in all sorts of forms and getting them involved in every day reading tasks can work wonders.
It also helps them see the benefits of all their hard work when it makes them more independent in other tasks too!
7. Swap books with friends or visit a library
Booktrust suggests encouraging children to swap books with their friends can encourage a love of reading as it gives them a chance to read new stories and gets them talking with their peers about what they've read. It's also worth remembering free collection points for new books also exist like the Little Libraries currently in Morrisons supermarkets.
Visiting the library together, says the reading charity, is always a fun way of finding new stories particularly when it comes to picking books they may not ordinarily consider.
Kent libraries have once again launched a Summer Reading Challenge for the school holidays, which challenges youngsters to read six library books over the break. Activity packs, medals and certificates are all available for children who take on the task.
Mike Hill, KCC’s cabinet member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “After the difficult year with the pandemic and its impact on children and their families, the Summer Reading Challenge 2021 is more important than ever in
supporting children with their learning, reading skills and so much more.
“Children have the whole summer to tackle the challenge - it does not finish until 11 September and we would like as many children as possible to take part.”
Youngsters can choose to sign up and participate in the Summer Reading Challenge either by visiting a Kent Library to claim their joining pack, or by visiting wildworldheroes.org.uk to take part online.