How to Encourage Reading During the Summer

The beginning of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of reading for children who may not voluntarily pick up a book outside of school.  An American Family Children’s Hospital pediatrician has tips for keeping kids engaged after the school year’s final bell rings.

“There are strategies for integrating reading into a child’s life, no matter how young or old they are,” said Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, pediatrician and director of University of Wisconsin Pediatric Early Literacy Projects, which includes the clinic-based Reach Out and Read program and the American Family Children’s Hospital Inpatient Reading Library.

Navsaria, who also has a master’s degree in library science, said the most successful strategies introduce reading at an early age, integrate it into children’s everyday lives and, most importantly, make it fun.

Set expectations for reading

Navsaria recommends that parents put reading on a priority list and set daily expectations for reading. “Expectations for reading don’t have to be any different than those for bathing and brushing teeth,” said Navsaria.

Continue to read aloud with your children, even after they’ve learned how to read

Pre-literacy skills, like learning the alphabet, usually develop by the age of five, and kids begin reading by themselves after that.  From the ages of five to nine, children solidify their literacy skills.

“At that point in child development, there are many opportunities to cement their reading and word comprehension skills,” said Navsaria.  “One of the most effective ways to do that is to read aloud and interact with them about the story in engaging and fun ways.”

Pressed for time?  Recruit older siblings to read with their younger brothers and sisters. As for teenagers who don’t think it’s cool to read with their parents, Navsaria has some advice.

“Hand them books along with companion audio books on subjects and topics that they enjoy.”

Give children opportunities to read

Navsaria says there are countless ways to provide opportunities for children to read.  He suggests family trips to the library and staying in touch with what your children like to read.

“If they enjoy reading a particular book, find out if it’s part of a series of books,” said Navsaria.  “You can also ask a librarian to suggest books that are similar—your local public librarian is an amazing resource.”


  • The Magic Tree House books and anything Disney are the favorites as of late in this house!

  • My daughter Camille loves any book by Eric Carle. Our favorite to read together is Head To Toe. She will get up and do all the actions in the book.

  • Charyl Uptegraw

    My 4 year old boy loves anything that involves counting. He is so proud of himself that he can now count (and recognize) numbers to 100!

    My 7 year old year girl loves the box car children

  • Jennifer Shelton

    My twin boys love to read the Magic Tree House books!! They were also introduced to Beverly Cleary books in 1st grade (my childhood favorites) so one of my sons has recently read Runaway Ralph and now we are reading Socks as a family.

  • Right now my daughter is really into the Little House On The Praire books.

  • Favorite books change every 2-3 weeks with my 3-year-old. This week it’s a tie between Billy Goats Gruff and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

  • My sons favorite book is “Wacky Wednesday”. He loves searching for the given number of wacky items on each page.

  • The Little Critter books are some of my 4 year old’s favorite books right now.

  • My 8-year-old has read and reread “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane!”

  • My niece (and I) love Beautiful Oops!

  • My 8-year-old has falled in love with a book Called My Side of the Mountain, about a coming-of-age boy who goes to live alone in the mountains for a long time. It is full of interesting survivalist tidbits, like how to make salt and fire. She is reading it for the second time, this time with me, and I love it, too.

  • My kids both love the Mercy Watson series…I do too!

  • Middle School, The Worst Years of my Life

  • Kathy Vander Meer

    The “Lunch Lady” series of books

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    And then we have my 10 year old son who is all over the Big Nate books 🙂

  • My girls (5 and 7) love to read, read, read anything they can get their hands on. Their favorite books are those by Cynthia Rylant: Mr. Putter and Tabby, Poppleton, Annie and Snowball, Henry and Mudge, the High Rise Detectives and so many others she has written!
    I loved the tips in this article. I agree that the key to a love of reading starts at an early age! We started reading to our girls as infants. It was part of our bedtime routine. Both girls learned to read primairly on their own bfore they turned 5.
    During the summer, we have a daily reading goal of 30 minutes a day but it is easily more than an hour spread throughout the whole day. We make it fun with little activities and a special reward or two. They love nothing more than to grab a stack of books and a blanket and read (by themselves or to each other) under a shade tree.

  • I Love You More by Laura Duksta, a favorite of my daughter’s.

  • My two year old has a lot of favorite books, right now he likes There are 10 in the Bed and This is the House that Jack Built.

  • Magic Treehouse for the 8 year old, and 39 Clues for the 10 year old!

  • Our 9 year old boy loves the Judy Moody series. He started with the Stink books, and likes the sister-series just as well. Our 12 year old is reading the Hatchett series ~ adventure and survival are fun for pre-teen boys.

  • Magic Treehouse series and Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate events!

  • My 2 year old and 1 year old love the book Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton!