Ten Reason Your Kids Should Participate in a Summer Reading Program

by Rebecca J. Gomez When my kids were young, summer reading programs were a sure thing. For the most part, my children were avid readers, especially my girls. A summer reading program wasn't necessary to encourage them to read, but we participated because it was a fun addition to summer. And the free pizza, books, and water park tickets definitely didn't hurt! There are lots of reasons to participate in a summer reading program or challenge, and here are ten of them: 1. Many summer reading programs offer prizes. And while we all know that reading is its own reward, some kids haven't figured that out yet. For those kids, a prize is just the incentive they need to stick their noses in a book now and then over the summer. 2. It's a fun way to reward those kids who will be reading no matter what! 3. For some families, trips to the library may help break up summer monotony.  4. Summer reading programs promote reading together as a family, especially for those with very young

12 Tips for Connecting with Your Kids Through Books

12 Tips for Connecting with Kids Through Books Beyond the Summer

by Rebecca J. Gomez

For many families, making books and reading a priority over the summer is fairly simple with regular trips to the library, summer reading challenges complete with rewards (like pizza!), and just having extra time in general. But a new school year shouldn't mean that connecting with your kids through books and reading should take a back seat, even though your kids will be doing plenty of required reading during the school year. There are lots of ways to keep the literary connection going at home. We hope one or more of these ideas will help.

1. Let kids make their own choices about what to read. Even if you don't read every book with them, you can still connect with your kids by talking to them about what they're reading. This is true even of older kids who aren't into read-alouds any more. Also, remember: graphic novels and comic books are real books!

2. Keep a routine of visiting the public library.

3. Prioritize reading with your child at bedtime, especially on your busiest days.

4. Pick a chapter book to read together as a family. One chapter a day after dinner or before bed is often manageable. A few suggestions for great family read-alouds: 

  • Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White 
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis
  • Fablehaven (series) by Brandon Mull
Be sure to discuss the story as you read and encourage your children to make predicitons.

5. Have a book-to-movie night! Watch a movie that is an adaptation of a book the whole family has read, then talk about how the book and movie differ. This could be combined with number four! 

Note: Not all book-to-film adaptations are based on novels. There are plenty that are based on picture books too, including Shrek, Mars Needs Moms, and Boss Baby!

6. Flip number five around and read the book on which a movie you've watched was based. Which is better? The book or the movie?

7. Get cooking! Plan a book themed meal. If you read a book that happens to include a recipe (such as the pico de gallo recipe in Federico and the Wolf), work it into a dinner or a weekend brunch. You could even go really crazy and plan a book-themed feast! We do a Hobbit feast every year because our daughter shares a birthday with Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. 

8. Keep an assortment of books in a prominent place in your home. 

9. Take advantage of book orders and book fairs! Give your kids a budget and let them choose a book (or two or three) that interests them.

10. Include books on gift lists. They can be given for birthdays, holidays, or as a reward for an accomplishment. Keep your kiddos' interests in mind when choosing books for them.

11. Watch read-alouds online together. Some good sources for publisher-approved read-alouds are:

12. Visit author and illustrator websites. Authors and illustrators often have plenty of resources to share, including fun stuff to go along with their books. 

If you try some of these ideas, keeping the literary fun alive throughout the school year shouldn't be too hard, even with many families' hectic schedules. 

Do you have any ideas for connecting with kids through books? Which of these ideas have worked for your family? Let us know in the comments!

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Come back tomorrow for the Summer Challenge GIVEAWAY!