5 Simple Ways to Get Your Kids Into Books This Summer

If you’re anything like me, you have high hopes to get your kids into lots and lots of books over the summer. But the lazy days, the lure of the almighty screen, and the protests of reluctant readers can derail our bookish good intentions.

My own family consists of one kid who’s a voracious reader, one kid who’s a reluctant reader, and one kid who’s still an emerging reader. Keeping up with such a wide array of ages, stages, and book appetites is no small task.

At Pickens County First Steps, we want to encourage you in practical ways as you nurture your young child. Because we’re busy parents just like you, we realize that if something’s not doable, it can fall by the wayside. So we’ve come up with 5 Easy Ways to Get Your Kids Into Books This Summer.

All of these tips will work regardless of your kids’ ages, from toddlers to teenagers.


1. Join your library’s summer reading program. Stat.

Kids LOVE the freebies and reading logs they get when they sign up. The library provides incentives along the way to get kids back into the library to claim their prizes AND to stock up on more books. It’s a win, win.

There’s a new theme each summer, complete with incentives for every age, from toddlers through teens and adults.

Here’s a link to the Pickens County Library’s newsletter that gives you all the details.


2. Audiobooks, audiobooks, audiobooks.

In the car for road trips.

In their rooms during rest time.

For the struggling reader.

For the reluctant reader.

For the avid reader who loves the voices and drama that audiobooks provide.

Last summer we finished the final 2 Harry Potter stories via audiobooks. The books came alive even more as fantastic British actor and narrator Jim Dale accompanied us on our family road trips.

For the young child, you can find everything from Beatrix Potter and Dr. Seuss to the Magic Tree House series. Check out the Pickens County Library’s children’s selection of audiobooks here. You can also search teens’ and adults’ selections.

For young children, your local branch has selections that may not show up online and that come with preschool activities.



3. Keep books in your vehicle. {And on your devices.}

I’ve taken to keeping books in my van so that there’s always something for someone to read. Whether we’re waiting at the doctor’s office or taking a short trip, having books with you at all times means there’s an alternative to iPods and iPhones.

But devices don’t have to be a threat to literacy. I have BOB books on my Kindle app for iPhone and there are a number of great apps that promote literacy for the young child. Starfall, for example, now has an app for mobile devices.


4. Consider rewarding reading time with screen time.

By the time August rolls around in South Carolina, there’s only so much outdoor play a kid can handle unless it involves water. It’s tempting to turn on the electronic babysitter all. day. long. But what if you create a habit of rewarding reading time with screen time?

You determine the ratios that work best for your child. For example, you could do 30 minutes of reading = 30 minutes of playstation.

For young children with short attention spans, you could do several read-aloud board books = 1 episode of Bubble Guppies. Find what works for you and your kids.


5. Incentives!

As we’ve mentioned, the library provides incentives and you can also use screen time as a reward. But for the struggling or reluctant reader, no matter how young or old the child is, you may need to create incentives that really mean something to them: a trip to Six Flags at the end of the summer, an outing to Chuck E’ Cheese, the toy they’ve been eyeing at Target for the last two months.

Some children have a natural affinity for books. Others, for various reasons, may need years of parental encouragement and perseverance before a love for books finally takes root and becomes its own incentive. That’s okay! We’re all wired differently, so don’t give up.

As a parent, encourage books with the incentives that work best for your family.

Here’s a printable read-aloud calendar from readaloud.org that you may find useful as you gear up for summer:


Hopefully you’ve found some everyday encouragement to make your summer reading hopes a reality for your kids this summer.

We love hearing from you. What are some of  YOUR favorite tips for keeping kids in books during the summer months?


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By Marian Vischer, Communications Coordinator
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