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Tips to Get Kids to Finish Their Summer Reading Lists

Many parents love to celebrate the reading lists teachers hand out to the kids for summer vacation, but kids more often prefer to spend time in the pool or lounging around playing video games instead.

Here are a few ways you can get your kids to finish their summer reading and even learn to appreciate and celebrate it.

Create a tranquil reading space.

Have you ever tried reading in a noisy, crowded room? Reading comprehension is severely compromised when students have to strain to concentrate. Ensure your child has a quiet space in which to delve into the magical world of books. A cozy window seat away from siblings and TV, a space behind a closed door, even a quiet, shady spot in the backyard are all options. It’s a simple, yet necessary part of good reading.

Get kids thinking.

Before jumping in, have a book discussion. Let the child describe what he or she might already know about the subject material. Next, have the child note all the things he or she wants to know about the subject. 

Previewing the cover, table of contents and book reviews will help pique his or her interest with this.  Finally, at the conclusion of the book, have your child discuss what he or she has learned.


Some kids need that extra push to get through a chapter or even a page.  Reading aloud with a partner helps to facilitate the reading process as well as helps improve reading decoding and fluency. Partners can take turns reading pages or chapters and can discuss what they read for deeper understanding. 

Create an incentive chart.

What kid doesn’t like to be rewarded for doing something good? An incentive chart can help kids stay motivated and on- task. Help kids devise a list of rewards for reaching certain goals. 

Smaller rewards, such as free time or computer time, can be given out when smaller milestones are achieved, (such as finishing a set number of pages) while larger rewards, such as a trip to the movies or ice cream shop, can be reserved for completing a book.

Learn about the author.

These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find an author without a web page.  A visit to an author site can help increase interest level in the book and may provide additional insight into characters and plot.

Make the story come alive.

Books don’t have to be one-dimensional. Many books’ settings are places that can be traveled to or researched. Bolster your child’s understanding and interest in a book by having him or her learn about where a story takes place.  Maps, websites, travel brochures and videos are all good resources.

Reader’s theater.

Students entering the same grade level are all required to read the same prescribed reading list. So why not invite some classmates over to have a reader’s theater? Kids can have a blast making props and costumes for their favorite scenes and then act them out.

Audio Books.

Many books are now available in audio format—some of which are narrated by famous actors.

Here’s a feather in your cap moms and dads: kids can no longer use the excuse that there’s no time to read. Just insert the CD and kids can listen to their required reading while eating breakfast, taking a long car ride or lounging on the beach.

Don’t wait until the last minute.

It seems self-explanatory, yet many families find themselves in this position every summer. The “I’ll get to it tomorrow” mentality is a sure way to derail any plans of completing a summer reading list. 

The best plan is to begin reading as soon as school gets out, while kids’ brains are still accustomed to routine. Set aside a certain amount of time to read each day and stick to it.

Get involved.

While it’s true the summer reading list belongs to your child, keep in mind, he or she is still a child. Kids need reminders to get started, prompts to keep going, and a pat on the back when they’re all done.


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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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