Teacher tip: Use bingo to motivate your child to read over the summer

By Kim Greene, MA on Jun 01, 2021

For some kids, summer means having more time to stick their noses in a good book and read. For other kids, summer reading is a chore. This is especially true for kids who struggle with reading and are reluctant to pick up a book.

Still, reading over the summer is important. It allows kids to practice their reading skills and learn about new topics. Kids can experience the “summer slide” if they don’t do anything academic over the long break. They may spend the beginning of the next school year relearning certain skills.

One way teachers motivate kids to read is by giving out summer reading bingo boards. Have your child put a checkmark in a box after completing each task. Children can win “bingo” by covering five squares in a row (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal).

Summer reading bingo boardPDF

Reluctant readers may hesitate to start the bingo board without prompting. Here are some ideas to give your child an extra boost of motivation.

1. Set a goal.

With your child, determine how much of the bingo board to complete and by when. For instance, your child might try to complete one row in a month. Another child may try to get in two or more rows, or fill out the whole board by summer’s end.

2. Give choices (and some guidance).

Kids should be able to choose the books they want for independent reading. Allow kids to read books they might not otherwise read in school. Don’t worry about the reading level being too hard or too easy. If your child wants to read a book that is too challenging, read it together. Keep in mind that too much choice can be overwhelming for some kids. It can be difficult to walk into a bookstore or library and know where to start. To help, present your child with four or five book options based on your child’s interests. To come up with suggestions, consult a list of books for reluctant readers. Or ask for recommendations from a librarian or your child’s teacher.

3. Keep a running list of books to read.

Maybe your child heard about a great book from a friend or spotted a new book on display at the library. Create a list of books for future reading. That way, when your child finishes one book, there’s another book just waiting to be read. Here are summer reading recommendations for kids in elementary, middle school, and high school. You can also find ideas in the Book Finder tool from Understood founding partner Reading Rockets.

4. Remember that reading takes many forms.

Sometimes books can feel overwhelming to kids. But your child can read in all sorts of formats — from books to magazines, audiobooks to graphic novels. Kids who like to travel and explore might enjoy reading online sites about mountain climbing adventures or the top 10 things to do in your state. They can also read monument plaques, park maps, and more.

5. Make reading comfortable.

Take note of the places your child is most likely to curl up with a good book. Leave books and other goodies in these places. For instance, leave a book and flashlight on your child’s nightstand. Set up a beanbag in the corner of a quiet room with a book and your child’s favorite snack. Sneak a book and sunglasses into your child’s pool or beach bag. By doing so, you’re creating opportunities for reading.

6. Be a reading role model.

Show your child what it means to be a reader. Pull out a book or magazine of your own instead of turning on the television. Read a book together before bed. Encourage siblings to read to each other (or to a pet!). You’ll create a family culture where reading is treasured at any time of the year.


Keep track of summer reading assignments with our free summer reading logs and planners.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Kim Greene, MA is the editorial director at Understood. A former elementary teacher and a certified reading specialist, she has a passion for developing resources for educators.