Keep Kids Reading All Summer Long

Several years ago, the Utah Center for Reading and Literacy at the University of Utah conducted a study and discovered that reading skills tend to drop during the summer months.

Specifically, here are some of the report's findings:

  1. In those schools where students received the fewest number of books, a drop in the reading level was greatest.
  2. Parental support for reading improves reading skills. (No surprise!)
  3. There’s a negative association between the amount of time spent reading and those children who watch television or play video games.

It is common for a child’s reading skills to drop during the summer months when there is less reading time structured into the day.

Keep Kids Reading this Summer

However, parents can combat this degradation by enrolling their children in reading programs. Here are some for you to consider:

Summer Reading with Barnes and Noble

With this program, children can earn a free book. All they need to do is read any eight books and record them in the Reading Journal. Then take the journal to a local store and choose a free book.

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

This is a free online reading program for children. The challenge begins on May 4 and ends on September 4. Schools with the most minutes read win visits to their schools by Michael Northrop or Varian Johnson. When I last checked the website, participants had already read a total of nearly 15,000,000 minutes – and the summer months haven't even begun.

Sylvan Reading Book Adventure

This program bills itself as more than a summer reading program. It lasts all year long and motivates children to read by offering prizes. Once a child participates in the Book Adventure, they take quizzes and can exchange their points for prizes. This seems like a good program to encourage reading year-round.

Government-Sponsored Summer Reading Programs

It's always a good idea to check with your local library. Libraries undoubtedly have reading programs, storytelling hours, and other programs to encourage reading in youngsters.

Showcase Cinema's Bookworm Wednesdays 

Now this is a fun program. Between July 8 and July 29, Showcase Cinema provides free tickets to a movie each week for each book a child reads. It can be a great incentive to keep your child reading this summer.

Book It! 

Pizza Hut is a sponsor of this summer reading challenge that kicks off on June 22. The program motivates children to read by rewarding reading accomplishments with praise, recognition and – what every child loves – pizza! The program was created in 1984 and currently reaches more than 14 million students in 38,000 elementary schools annually. It also runs a school-year program between October and March.

Chuck E. Cheese 

The restaurant famous for children's birthday parties also sponsors a summer reading program where kids can earn ten tokens for reading each day for two weeks.

Books-A-Million Summer Reading Program

This reading program is sponsored by BAM!, which sells books, e-books, magazines, and electronics. To join the reading program, select four books from the Summer Quest Section, record them in a journal, and then turn your paperwork into a local store.

Of course, you can always access my books on my website for free. Feel free to read them to your toddlers from your desktop or laptop computers or use the books to help your youngsters learn to read. 

If you discover additional summer reading programs, be sure to let me know.

Girl and caterpillars

Elizabeth B. Martin is the author and illustrator of six picture books for children. You can view her books here for free.