Some students are still learning remotely, others are back in the classroom full-time. As the school year comes to a close students (and teachers!) are likely looking forward to breaks from the routine. Spring and summer signal longer breaks for students. The time away from class, though, doesn’t mean children should push aside their books.
Spring Break is a great time to initiate a kids reading program that can also be used during summer. Reading programs don’t have to be formal or instructive, however. Use these fun ideas for kids reading programs to keep kids engrossed in books during breaks (spring, summer…and even winter, too!).
School breaks tend to correlate to holidays. Winter breaks take place during festive celebrations like Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s. Spring Break is usually around Easter or Passover. Summer, of course, includes the Fourth of July.
An at-home reading program can simply adopt these holidays as a theme. During the winter break, kids can read books about the holidays or they may even read about winter weather. Spring break reading programs can focus on learning about spring holidays (including St. Patrick’s Day) or other spring themes like flowers and gardening,
Families also can choose a theme based on their interests and culture. Or encourage children to learn all about the seasons—including celebrations—across the world. Holidays and even the seasons are a great way to introduce children to global experiences. When it’s spring in North America, for example, it’s fall in other places.
Visit the library to encourage children to read up on different themes for their break. Let them choose the books—but make sure the levels are appropriate. Parents can read to children, too.
The goal is to read during the break and let kids explore their interests and curiosity.
On your mark, get set….READ. Hold a friendly family reading contest. This isn’t about who reads the fastest. Instead, see who can read the most pages, the most books or the most minutes during the time off from school.
Have kids create a chart for the contest to keep track of their progress. Don’t pit kids against each other, though. Instead reward all children for their accomplishments. Maybe one child read more pages, but another read more books.
Some children struggle to read, so make goals that are appropriate for them.
Start a Family Reading Program
Think of this as more of a family book club. Everyone reads the same book! However, the book must be the appropriate level for all family members. So this idea may be best suited for families with older children.
Parents and kids can brainstorm books that they’d like to read for the book club. During summer, the family may read several books. During shorter breaks, though, just opt for one smaller book. Make sure everyone can get through it. Remember, some kids may need more time to read.
Choose a day to discuss the book. Talk about what happened, favorite characters and why everyone liked or didn’t like the story.
Get Environmental: Read a Book, Plant Something Green
The pages of books are made from paper, and paper is created from trees. Adopt a unique reading tradition by planting a tree after hitting a reading goal. Ecolibris let individuals plant trees for a specific number of books they read; these trees were planted in countries where they were most needed. While Ecolibris is no longer providing the service, families can make the reading experience greener by planting trees in their own backyard.
Perhaps for every 10 books the family reads, a tree is planted in the yard. Or maybe a seed for flowers. While families might not have the space for an entire orchard, planting anything green can help the environment. Or donate to an organization like the Arbor Day Foundation.
Check Out the Library
Many public libraries offer summer reading programs. Each library may have its own program structures; some even offer prizes.
Visit your library online to see what programs are offered. Families may even find opportunities for virtual reading events or other reading activities. Many libraries offer story time for younger children; this is a great way to start a reading tradition at a young age.
Some libraries even have Spring Break programs. Teague Public Library, for example, hosts a Spring Break Read-a-Thon plus other activities!
Maybe your child’s school offers enrichment activities during the summer (or spring). Some schools send learning packets home with students to work on during the summer; these materials may help keep kids engaged and learning. Schools also could sponsor their own reading programs or encourage kids to join the local library’s reading programs. Parents can ask teachers for ideas, too.
Reading with Rewards
Some reading programs are tied to local restaurants or attractions. Pizza Hut, for example, has offered the Book-It program for decades. The program lets kids set goals based on pages, minutes or the number of books. When they finish the program, they receive a certificate for a free personal pan pizza.
Live near a Six Flags theme park? Six Flags offers the Read to Succeed program, and children can receive a free ticket to the park for reading. However, the child’s school must be participating in the program in order for a child to sign up.
Check with your child’s teacher to inquire about any reading programs with which the school may be participating.
Combine Reading with Activities
A reading program can be a fun mix of books and other activities that complement the book. When children are reading a book, parents can help children immerse and explore the story through activities and fun outings.
Ask a child what they are reading. Talk about the places, people and even the foods featured in the book. When parents have background about the story—they may even research online—they can start planning reading activities.
A reading field trip can help children explore the places in the book. Parents might not be able to visit faraway lands, but they can get creative. If the book is set in the past and features historic events, visit a museum that focuses on these themes. A planetarium would be a great field trip for a book that focuses on planets or the solar system. Or maybe if the main character was interested in outer space. Field trips also can be virtual. Many museums offer virtual tours or other activities.
The foods in the book also can be enticing to kids. Sometimes these scenes of wondrous feasts and new flavors can make adults hungry, too. Everyone has likely read a book that featured a food or meal that sounded tasty. Ask kids what the characters in the book are eating. Then hunt down those foods. Maybe cook up a book feast! Or eat a story-themed snack while reading.
Books open up new worlds…and new flavors, too!
Watch a Movie after Enjoying the Book
Easy reading programs for kids during vacations or school breaks can simply pair up a book with the big screen adaptation. Let kids choose books that have been made into movies. They should read the book first, and, when they finish, then the family can watch the movie.
Talk about the book and the movie and how they were different and similar. Sometimes the characters look different on screen than how they were described in the book. Plots can be different in the movies, too. Not all movies are true to the book. It’s fun to spot the differences.
Watching the movie won’t make a child a more fluent reader, but perhaps watching the movie can help children appreciate that books are so entertaining and imaginative that even Hollywood uses them for inspiration.
Use an Online Reading Program
While restaurants, theme parks, libraries and schools all can offer fun reading programs with prizes and activities, children who struggle with reading may need a program that helps them read. Summer break can be the time when children lose proficiency; educators dub this the ‘summer slide.’ For children who need additional help with reading, an online reading program may help children gain proficiency with comprehension and phonics.
Readability includes a built-in AI tutor that guides lessons by helping children when they stumble on a word and asking questions related to comprehension. Children move up to more difficult stories and books as they demonstrate proficiency at each level. Children will not advance until they master each level.
Parents can follow their child’s progress via the Parent Dashboard; this shows how long the child engaged with the program and provides parents with the child’s reading level. Parents can easily note their child’s progress with the program to better gauge its effectiveness.
Readability can be downloaded on a computer, tablet or phone. Reading lessons can go mobile! Since not all reading programs are a perfect fit for every child, Readability offers a free seven-day trial. Ready to try Readability during the next school break? Sign up today!