THIS ARTICLE IS A READER FAVORITE AND WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN JUNE 2013.
That first week of summer is fast approaching! We’re all ready for the sun and that bit of relaxation in the rhythm of our days. But before you clean out the backpacks, transition all the clothes to shorts and t-shirts, and grab the pool pass — remember that this is a perfect time of year to rekindle or even introduce a love of reading in the heart of your boys! Being transported to new worlds, learning new skills, and getting lost in the beauty of story is one of the best gifts you can ever give, and we’ve got some great ideas and recommendations for your summer reading journey!
Please keep in mind as you read through these suggestions and book ideas that selecting appropriate reading material for your children is a highly subjective and child-specific process. Please review each and every item of reading material you bring into your home before passing it along to your kids.
Journey Through a Summer Reading Program
Check with your local library and see if they offer a special program to encourage reading during the summer months. Often, kids receive special treats and coupons for local restaurants and activities as incentives to complete their hourly reading goals! If your library doesn’t offer this kind of program, create your own (check out this fun printable set) or hook up with something similar online. For example, PBS Kids has some great resources and tips for encouraging your young readers.
Build New Skills through Books
If your boys begin to complain of boredom this summer, have a few tricks up your sleeve ahead of time to introduce a new experience or skill. Pick up some kid-friendly cookbooks and encourage your boys to try out a new recipe and serve the rest of the family once a week! Or have Dad pick up a DIY book with age-appropriate projects to work through on the weekends! Or head to the non-fiction section of the library and get some books on animals, nature, weather, and science experiments and send the boys outside to explore and create! In our family, we LOVE the Crinkleroot series, the Sandbox Scientist, and Camp Out! The Ultimate Kids’ Guide.
Encourage a Sense of Literary Wonder
Look for small ways to make the world of reading a magical place! Find space in your home to build a reading nook or perhaps start a Friday Reading Fort tradition. Move beyond the stories your boys love and investigate the lives and passions of the authors who wrote them. Introduce them to good poetry, encourage them to write some of their own, and hold a Family Poetry Reading. See if your library has some of these “big books” to explore. Surprise your boy by collecting a set of books on their favorite subject or introduce a new one you know they will fall in love with! You could search for all the Star Wars books you can find, or get the ball rolling on a Titanic or weird sea creature obsession, or gather a variety of fiction and non-fiction pieces on castles and knights. The possibilities are endless!
Integrate Books and Reading into Every Day Activities
We’re all good at packing up a small bag of toys, coloring supplies, and stuffed animals for trips and playdates — don’t forget to pack new books or your latest library find! You can even work on good listening skills with your boys by incorporating audiobooks in the car. Start another fun tradition by reading chapter books as a family each night. Think through the books you loved as a child and if they are age-appropriate, begin working those into your summer nighttime routine. We love The Boxcar Children, anything by C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia for the younger crowd and The Space Trilogy for teens), Nate the Great, The Redwall series, The Littles, The Hardy Boys, The Adventures of Flat Stanley, The Wings of Dawn series, etc.
Instill a Love for the Library
We’ve started early with our boys and take 2-3 trips to the library each week! To them, the library is just as exciting as a visit to our local zoo, pool, or park! Perhaps this is the summer you get library cards for your boys. Give them some responsibility and put them in charge of knowing due dates and paying fines for late materials. Check out the events being held at your local library as well — weekly storytimes, special theme days, and concerts, movies, and book signings are typically part of the summer calendar. And if you live in an area that has a larger library system, be sure to take special trips to other libraries or “the main” downtown library for a new literary adventure. We recently discovered an older library in a neighboring town that has a Story Garden-themed children’s area that is still within our larger library system, so we can check out books there as well! Additionally, you can expand their access to books by linking arms with your neighbors and friends to create a small “Friend’s Library” — let them name their library system, create materials to “check out” books, and plan a rotating playdate afternoon where friends visit and get to take home 1-2 books from their friends’ selection. If you want more ideas for specific books to introduce to your boys this summer, check out this great list from The Story Warren!