Keeping children engaged and entertained during the summer is a challenge that many parents face at the start of the school holidays. The Reading Agency and libraries have developed their own Challenge to help solve this issue – the annual Summer Reading Challenge runs in 96% of local authorities across England, Scotland, and Wales. As part of the Challenge, children are encouraged to read six books of their choice with collectable incentives and rewards, plus a certificate for every child who completes the Challenge. Children can sign up for the Challenge at their local library at the start of the summer holidays– and it is completely free.
The Challenge will ensure that children have access to lots of different books and great support such as Challenge themed craft sessions, author talks and a host of fun activities that are put on by local librarians to support the Challenge. Not only will your child join the hundreds of thousands of children taking part in the Challenge, they’ll get fun space themed incentives to keep them reading. In addition to the Challenge, we’ve put together some more top tips on how to make space for reading this summer.
1. Make reading part of your routine
We’ve all tried to build new habits – and it can be tricky. Why not set aside twenty minutes every day for reading during the summer, for you and your child? You can fit it into your routine: reading before dinner will give you the space to discuss what you’ve read during your meal, or perhaps try a more traditional bedtime read? If you have a particularly busy day, why not try audio books in the car? You and your child can both follow the story along, chat about the characters, and the parts of the story you most enjoyed.
2. Get reading ready
If you’re reading at home with your child, why not create a physical space that encourages your child to read? This could mean creating a physical reading den with some of their favourite books, or a blanket or bookmark that helps them feel ready to read. Associating an object or space with reading could help your child settle down with a book.
3. Start small
Summer is a time for fun so it’s important to make sure that reading is enjoyable for your child. Be flexible and let your child pick what they want to read. This could be something small like a magazine or comic, or a graphic novel. Reading doesn’t always have to be about the classics.
4. Be a reading role model
How often do you read at home? Seeing adults read for enjoyment is a great way to help children develop their reading habit. As children often model behaviour it’s important for them to see the adults in their life reading. Studies have shown that adults who read for just 30 minutes a week are 20% more likely to report greater life satisfaction, so we know that it’s good for you. If you’re busy during the summer, why not pick up a Quick Read from your local library? The books are perfect for regular readers wanting a fast and satisfying read, but are also ideal for adults who are discovering reading for pleasure for the first time. Give it a go!
5. Be social
Reading is a great conversation starter and a fantastic way to connect with people. Having a chat with your child about what they’ve read will help them process the ideas that they’ve read in the book and be a good way for you to bond with them. You could also offer to read aloud to your child –if they’re reading a book that they might struggle with on their own, having this support could give them confidence. It doesn’t just have to stop there. Children can take part in the Summer Reading Challenge with their friends, and a sense of camaraderie and support between peers is a good way to keep children engaged.
6. Think outside the book
Reading doesn’t have to be an indoor activity, or based solely around books. You could read a history book with your child and take them to relevant historical locations, or read books about nature or space and head to a museum or local park. Inside the home, there’s always the option of watching the film adaptation of a book and comparing it to the text – by making reading come alive, your child will be able to see the ways that books can become part of their everyday life.
You can sign up for the Challenge at your local library throughout the summer, and there are lots more fun children’s activities on the Summer Reading Challenge website www.summerreadingchallenge.co.uk/
 [Billington, J, (2015) Reading between the Lines: the Benefits of Reading for Pleasure Quick Reads, University of Liverpool p. 7]