7 ways to encourage your child to read over the summer

Reading over the summer lets kids practice their skills and learn about new topics. Download a summer reading bingo board to encourage your child to read. Plus, get other tips to motivate reluctant readers.

Some kids love having more time to read over the summer. For other kids, summer reading is a chore. This is especially true for kids who struggle with reading.

Still, reading over the summer is important. 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.

Here are some ideas to give your child an extra boost of motivation.

1. Try a bingo board.

Some teachers motivate kids to read 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 - 463.1 KB

Download$opens in a new tab

2. Set a goal.

Talk with your child about a reading goal. For example, how often should your child read each week?

If you’re using the bingo board, talk with your child about 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 even fill out the whole board by summer’s end.

3. Give choices (and some guidance).

Let kids read books they might not get to read in school. It’s OK if the reading level is harder or easier than your child’s level. If your child wants to read a book that’s too challenging, you can read it together. An easier book can still help kids build skills and confidence.

Kids should choose their own books for independent reading. But too many options in a library or bookstore can be overwhelming. Narrow it down by consulting a list of books for reluctant readers. You could also ask a librarian or your child’s teacher for recommendations.

4. 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.

5. Remember that reading takes many forms.

Books can sometimes 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.

6. 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. You’ll be creating opportunities for reading.

7. 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.


Read next