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How to Keep Kids Reading over Summer Break

Summer. It’s a time for splashing at the pool, roasting marshmallows, chasing fireflies, and ditching everything school-related. Right? Well…maybe not.

While most academic pursuits can indeed be paused during the summer months, studies have shown that continued reading is critical. In this article, we’ll show you just how crucial reading is, and—more importantly—how you can keep those pages turning during the long summer break.

Why Summer Reading Is Important

The more a student reads, even when school isn’t in session, the better his or her academic performance will be. In fact, students who read as few as four books during summer break perform better on comprehension tests than students who don’t read at all. That’s because reading helps children grow in both general knowledge and critical thinking skills. Regular readers can learn and comprehend new information more quickly, and as a result are more likely to be high academic achievers.

Just as an athlete trains during the off-season to maintain strength, coordination, and endurance, a student’s brain must receive regular exercise during their “off-season.” Studies show that students who don’t read during summer can lose one to three months of the reading skills gained during the previous academic year. What’s more, this loss is long-term and cumulative, making it very difficult for students to catch back up in the fall. A student who doesn’t read at all over the summer can lose over three years of reading skills by fifth grade, leading to obvious academic struggles.

How to Encourage Summer Reading

Now that you know how important summer reading is, here are some tips to keep those pages turning and create some great family memories in the process.

  1. Create or join a summer reading challenge. The Wichita Public Library boasts a free summer reading program for children of all ages, featuring great prizes for consistent reading. Many bookstores and other businesses also have their own summer reading programs. If you don’t want to join a formal program, you can reward your kids at home for specific numbers of pages, minutes, or books read.

  2. Explore audiobooks. For the auditory learner, the early reader, or the kid who can’t sit still, audiobooks are a great option. Listening to books provides the same benefits as reading, and it can be a great way to pass the time on long car trips!

  3. Read something fun. Take a trip to the library or bookstore (Faith and Life Bookstore in Newton is well worth the drive!) and allow your children to choose their own books. Summer is a great time for kids to explore favorite topics that might not be covered during school; librarians and booksellers are happy to provide recommendations. And don’t rule out comic books or graphic novels! They’re a great break between longer, more serious reads, and are hugely beneficial for visual learners and budding artists.

  4. Read as a family. Kids who see their parents reading are more likely to read themselves, so find a favorite novel and dig in! Read aloud as a family, or select a book to read individually and discuss together. Many movies are also based on books, so choose one to read as a family, then watch the movie and discuss similarities and differences.

We hope you spend lots of lazy summer days at the pool, riding bikes, and slurping frozen treats. But we also hope your summer includes fantastic stories and memorable characters, too!

What books are you reading this summer?

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