mom reading a book in a summer tent with her children

According to a recent article in The New York Times, the average student is a third of a year behind in reading as a result of the pandemic. 

Luckily, summer is the perfect time to try to reverse this trend.

We surveyed librarians in New York and Connecticut to get their take on how they encourage their young patrons to read over the summer. 

Here’s what they said.

Rye Free Reading Room, New York

from Sarah Prosser

Any reading is good reading — comics, audiobooks, fan fiction, and yes books, all count! Encouraging readers to follow and explore their passions is a great way to encourage kids to engage more with reading and learning. Additionally, kids model the behavior they see at home, so take a moment to wonder how frequently your kids see you reading for pleasure, or discussing the books you love and adjust accordingly. That kind of authentic enthusiasm is contagious! Lastly, reading over the summer is an opportunity to rebuild relationships with reading outside of reading levels and classrooms — allowing young readers to explore without judgment on rereading something they love, or passing worry on if there are harder words in some works, hampers their freedom to read and hinders them as lifelong learners.

Mount Kisco Public Library, New York

from Linda Surovich

At the library, we have our annual Summer Reading game. Prizes are of course an incentive but we’ve found a lot of kids like to compete for the top spot as well. Bringing out that natural competitiveness helps drive and motivate kids to read what they like over the summer.

A Library in Hartford County, Connecticut

from Amy T.

Let your child choose books that interest them! And it is OK for them to reread books they love! Also, take some time with them and read to them. Not only will this help you bond with your child, but you will also be sharing your love for books with them. Kids are never too old to be read to! Make reading fun: read with a flashlight, make a fort out of blankets and pillows and read in it, find a cozy spot outside to read, and read to a stuffed animal!

A Library in a River Town in Westchester, New York

from P.C.

Provide a variety of reading materials and formats: chapter books, non-fiction, graphic novels, e-books, and audiobooks. Ask kids what they are interested in and find books to go with those interests. Suggest something completely different for those who haven’t found the right books yet. Don’t put time limits or other restrictions on what they read. Make sure they have plenty of access to reading material.

A Library in Fairfield County, Connecticut

from C.D.

In order to get kids to read, they should be allowed to read what piques their interest rather than a list given to them by the schools or even libraries. Since many children, unfortunately, do not read at their age level, it is better to offer a variety of books for them to read rather than those that fit their grade level. A variety of formats for reading may also help to get kids reading: if they are more visual learners then reading a graphic novel would better suit them than the average chapter book. Offering these various formats in reading such as audiobooks, magazines, graphic novels, short chapter books, etc. will encourage a child to read more readily. By having both alternative formats to reading along with topics that interest them, a child will want to read more willingly. Summer is a time for fun and reading should be fun. By having the children be exposed to what they are interested in rather than what they should be reading, you create an environment that will allow the child to enjoy the act of reading and associate summer reading with one word: fun.

A Library in Fairfield County, Connecticut

Making reading fun is the best way to get kids reading over the summer or any time. When kids can find books, they love then reading will always be fun.

A Library in Westchester, New York

from T.T.

We participate in a summer reading program which is great for readers. In the past two years, I have consistently stressed that graphic novels are books and can be included. This year I will be sharing novels in verse for reluctant readers. I am also now putting the summer reading lists in pamphlet form to make it easier for parents to take home or just locate the books. The one thing I remember from my childhood summers? Let them read what they like and have them take home a big stack just in case they don’t like the first book they pick up!

A Library in Tolland County, Connecticut

from W.B.

Offer kids very basic chat discussions about the types of books that they like to read.

A Library in Westchester, New York

from R. P.

Let them read about topics they enjoy and will engage with; make a goal incentive or sign them up for their library’s summer reading program where they can track their progress and win prizes.

Summer is a great time for your kids to discover the exciting world of reading. These engaging strategies, from building reading forts to embracing various book formats, such as comics and audiobooks, will encourage and inspire your kids to develop a lifelong love for reading. 

Do you have a student that would benefit from summer reading instruction?

Kids who don’t read or practice skills over the summer can lose two months of reading progress. Our reading programs not only prevent summer learning loss, but will also help struggling readers increase their reading fluency and comprehension, improve their skills, and boost their confidence.

We have several reading programs so your student can get the exact support they need, from elementary to high school.

Give us a call to learn more: 203-307-5455.

How to Get Your Child to Read Over the Summer: Librarians Reveal Their Insights