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How Much Summer Reading Is Too Much?

Seeking advice from Mahwah parents

How do you work out summer reading with your kids? Many parents don’t want their kids to completely forget about schoolwork during the summer, but also want to allow time for physical activity, socialization, and relaxation.

What are your thoughts on summer reading? 

Mom's Council member Lauren Rosen had the following to say:

"Who says you can’t enjoy summer while preparing for the next school year? I am certain that you can do both. Research shows that kids lose quite a bit of ground academically through the summer months. It is critical for students to read consistently throughout the summer to maintain and even build on those hard earned skills gained throughout the school year.

There are many ways to make reading fun, enticing, and not a chore. These ways vary based on age and interest levels. Some things that I have done with my children are suggested below:

  1. Sign up for a program in the library. The library offers wonderful age-based programs that range from interactive and fun to independent with reading incentives and challenges.
  2. Go to a Book Store. Go on a really hot day to get out of the heat or a rainy day. Look through magazines, cook books, high interest books like travel, sports, or hobbies. Spark conversation to help your child develop an interest. Ask for store support. I used to give my kids gift certificates to a book store to use over the summer.  We also went to book stores that were in fun towns with a plan to go for ice cream or lunch after. If your child purchases a book he/she likes, (s)he is more likely to read it.
  3. Make reading a fun challenge at home. Create a chart and place it in the kitchen or a common area to display. Challenge the kids and adults in the house to “take the reading challenge”. Decide upon the winning prize as a family. Keep the challenge short range so there can be more than one winner per summer.
  4. Take your books or reading materials on the road. Model and encourage your child to read at the beach or at the pool. Listen to books on tape in the car. Or if you go on vacation, you can read in the airport or even the plane.
  5. Look for reading programs in non-reading establishments. Last year, Commerce Bank had a wonderful summer reading program for kids. If your child opened a savings account and read a certain amount of books, they would reward you with a few dollars to deposit.
  6. Make reading fun and social. Share the newspaper or magazines with your child. Talk it up!
  7. Model your enjoyment of reading and chances are, you’ll get them hooked in no time. The most important thing is to keep kids reading a little bit each day throughout the entire summer. You’d be surprised how much easier your child transitions back into academics in September."
Patricia Patella June 01, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Summer reading is a great way for my kids to relax after a long day of activities. Although I don't force them to pick up a book everyday, I do strongly suggest, while they are lounging on the couch, to pick up a book and read a few pages. Before you know it they are through a book and on to the next one. My kids usually get through a few books a summer. We try to pick things from the summer reading list but if another book peaks their interest, I let them read it. The key to reading is enjoying the subject. Even my four year old loves books. We read every night and she is so excited to pick out the three or four books we will read. Reading is a wonderful way to keep your mind active. I want the kids to enjoy their summer, participate in fun activities and relax, but I also want them to keep their minds sharp so they won't find it so difficult to get back in the swing when September rolls around. Tricia Patella Mom's Council
Suzanne Curry June 01, 2011 at 05:16 PM
This is an easy one! No amount of reading is too much. With my two active boys, and I presume this is the same in many households, getting them to pick up a book in the summer was instead the issue. I have heard of moms paying children to read books, making it a prerequisite to other fun activities, and many other inventive incentives to get their kids to read over the summer. I have packed books in suitcases and put books in the car for long trips only to realize that looking out the window or jabbing each other was much more the preferred activity. Books can be used for lots of things other than reading, especially in a confined space. They make a great surface for eating off of. The pages make a noise when you flip them quickly. The book can also be positioned to have just anything roll off of it, like a ball or toy car. When opened in half, it makes a great hat that the other person looking at thinks is really funny. But my favorite on a car trip is how a book works better than those pull down shades to keep the sun out of one's eyes. It is hard to argue that one cannot possibly read the book anyhow with the sun glaring in one’s face. – see next box
Suzanne Curry June 01, 2011 at 05:17 PM
Curiously, one of my sons did develop a love for reading, and now that he's older he will read on his own. My younger son is just discovering the joy of reading, but I have realized children will read what they are interested in; the trick is to find out exactly what that is. And remember that all reading counts, not just reading from a book. Unless your child forgoes friends and other activities you think he/she should be participating in, and in that case please seek professional advice, I would relax and enjoy the downtime and the peace of mind that comes with knowing your child is putting his or her time to good use. – Suzanne Curry, writing as a member of the Mom’s Council

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