Two Tips to Get Kids Reading This Summer

I recently had two encounters at the local library that stuck with me.

The first: Seth and I were looking through the audiobooks and playaways for him, and a mom approached me and asked for audiobook recommendations for her son, age 7. This is my dream encounter. Usually I overhear people debating what books to get their kids and am dying to put my two cents in; this lady flatout asked for my input! If you have ever asked me for suggestions, you know that you might get more than you bargained for. I gave her several suggestions, based on her son’s age and interests.

This leads me to my first summer reading tip: Let the kids listen to audiobooks. Have you ever checked out playaways? They’re so handy–just add a AAA battery and headphones, and the kids are good to go. Bonus: it’s not like an iPod or phone, so it can’t do anything but play that specific book. If you’re concerned about your child’s reading skills, try to also acquire a hard copy of the book for him/her to read along with as they listen. It will help them get what fluent reading sounds like in their heads; they’ll be exposed to more vocabulary, and most importantly, they get to experience some great stories they might not otherwise be able to read independently! Win-win-win!

Don’t forget about your library’s online resources! I am just getting used to this, and actually forget about it too often. We couldn’t find the book Seth wanted to listen to at the library, and he reminded me we could see if they had it on the library’s online database. Genius! They did have it. It was so simple to download to the app on one of the tablets. Check with your local library about what they use and see if there’s an app you can download to a family tablet or device.

The second library encounter: A mom, as she looked at picture books, called to her son, “Honey? Don’t you want to come pick out some picture books? Since I’m the one picking out all these books? For you?” There was a clear note of concern that her child was uninterested in what books went home with him.  I halfway wanted to assure her that it’s perfectly normal for a child to be more interested in other things at the library–the puzzles, the computers, the dragon sculpture, the Lego table. Seth was never interested in what books I picked for him–until we got home, and then he was glad to have all those I’d picked read to him. I viewed it as an opportunity for me to have full reign to introduce him to all the books I wanted him to know and love, and new ones I wanted us to try out together.

This goes along with tip #2: Get lots of books and read TO your kids. Especially if you know they won’t read otherwise. Even if you know they will read plenty on their own. Or they’re somewhere in between. Just go ahead and read to them. Involve them in the selections, or don’t if they aren’t interested. Whatever works. Read to them at bedtime, or during that restless lull in the late afternoon, or in the bathtub, or whenever you think they’re most receptive. Just do it. Carve out some time and read together!

When you & the kids check out too many library books, and you feel like you’re carrying a large child in your tote bag, and not all the books will even fit = success. (Yes, my child has on an alien costume.)

I’m going to post again soon with some recommended books and genres to entice even reluctant readers to want to pick up a book on their own, so stay tuned, and read on!

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