The Summer Reading Challenge
by Faith Berens
HSLDA Special Needs Consultant
How can I keep my kids reading over the summer and provide them with extra reading practice that is fun? This is a question we frequently receive in the spring and summer.
Faith Berens helps HSLDA members homeschool their students with special needs.
Here are some ideas to keep your kids motivated to read over the next few weeks:
- Be sure to check into your local library’s summer reading challenges and programs;
- Some banks actually have summer reading incentives, such as TD Bank;
- Listen to books on audio during travel times;
- Have family read-aloud time in “creative” places, such as poolside during break, at a picnic in the park, or around the backyard fire pit in the evening;
- Consider using a reading software program such as Reader Rabbit or Reading Detectives as supplementary practice;
- Local colleges or universities may offer summer reading clinics for struggling readers;
- Check out your local parks and recreation, YMCA or other community organizations for reading-related summer camps;
- Educational tutoring companies such as Sylvan, Kumon, or Huntington may offer special deals for summer tutoring.
Here are some companies that are offering summer reading incentive programs:
Barnes & Noble: Kids can earn a free book when they read any eight books. Just download the Reading Journal, then when it’s complete, bring it in to your local B&N store and kids can choose a free bank from their list. You may also download a parent activity or educator kit for fun reading activities and teaching tips.
Chuck E. Cheese: Kids can earn 10 free tokens every time they read for two weeks in a row. You can download the Reading Rewards Calendar at, and when it’s complete, bring it in to your local Chuck E. Cheese. Limit of one free token offer per child per day at participating locations. Food purchase is required.
iVillage/PBS KIDS: iVillage and PBS KIDS have created a six-week, Summer Reading Community Challenge set to start June 18. Program includes a daily email with reading tips and fun activities from the experts at PBS KIDS and Scholastic, book suggestions and discounts, free downloads of PBS KIDS shows, and a daily chance to win $1,000 and other great prizes. You can sign up here by entering your email address.
Scholastic Summer Challenge: Kids can sign up and log their reading minutes to win cool rewards with this free online program from Scholastic. Parents can get reading tips, booklists and track their kids reading either online or on their phone. Go online for more details. To sign up, just click on the “Get Started” button in the lower right corner and then click on “Join Now” in the pop-up box.
Pottery Barn: Join their Summer Reading Challenge, and if you read all the books on one of their recommended lists, you can earn a free book. This program is for both independent readers and younger children who can read with an adult. You can also download a Progress Tracker Poster and a certificate of completion and enter for a chance to win a backpack full of books. This program runs through August 22.
Tips for Keeping Summer Reading Enjoyable
- Teach your kids to pick “just right” books—Remember the Five-Finger Rule: If he can’t read five or more words on a page, that book is too hard. A book that only has 2–3 words per page he needs help with would be “just right.”
- Read the story with your child (you read a page, I read a page);
- Encourage your child to read the familiar phrases and words out loud;
- Demonstrate to and assist your child with sounding out words he may have difficulty reading;
- Provide the word your child is struggling with so that he doesn’t become frustrated and lose the enjoyment of the experience;
- Use repeated reading of the story which builds reading fluency, expression, and prosody;
- Ask your child what he enjoyed most about the story and its characters or have him do an oral retelling.
So, remember: “The more you read, the more you know; the more you know, the more you grow.”
Happy summer reading!