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Summer Fun: Reading Hour

Summer reading is a great habit for both kids and adults to get into. Find a good book for kids and enjoy it together or encourage a daily reading hour for your child to take the adventure on his own.

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girl reading on the wall

I’ve finished four books in the last week. Yes, really. That’s partly thanks to the gym. I read while I “racewalk” on the treadmill. OK, not racewalk the way Billy Crystal does it in When Harry Met Sally. I got better workout clothes than that.

But, I’m walking fast (3 1/2 miles per hour) instead of running. But, not too fast for reading. It’s amazing to me to do this two-fold thing that feeds my brain and my body at the same time.

Make reading a priority

Anyway, I digress. My point in all that was to say that reading is a priority this summer. I signed all the kids and myself up for the San Diego County Library’s summer reading program. Yes, there are prizes for adults, too. Not as cool as the kids’ prizes which are Legoland tickets, but I’ve won my book bag already. Zingo!

So, you know that reading is good. And chances are your kids know that, too. Reading for kids is not only a great way to fuel the imagination, but it’s also a way to maintain academic skills over the summer break. You can enrich history and science knowledge over the summer by exposing your kids to nonfiction, of course, but also to fiction that features elements of history and science. A book, after all, is a journey.

boy reading on the hammock

We don’t yet have a regular schedule for our summer. It was much easier when my kids were 10 and under to herd all the cats in the same direction every day. Now that they’re sprawled between 4 and 16, it’s a little more difficult. One thing we are making a habit it reading hour.

Reading hour for summer involves nothing more than unplugging from all devices and providing a big stack of library books. We run out of books pretty quickly actually. Many is the time that we’ve found books to read online or free Kindle books.

Be reading.

It’s always good for parents to read for and alongside their kids. I’ve always been a fan of children’s literature, so I’ve enjoyed reading books aloud with my kids, oftentimes reading ahead. (Gasp.)

Now that my eldest is getting older, I’m finding that some of my books are interesting to him. Now, that’s kinda trippy.

During the school year I’m lucky to get any time to read, but I shoot for 30 minutes a day. I just set a timer and make it happen. This summer, I’ve been reading on the treadmill as well as off it. Hopefully, my kids are noticing that books are good for adults, too.

ipad with children's book on it

Find good books for kids.

Books for kids are abundant, but it’s hard to know what’s twaddle, what’s appropriate, and what’s a must read. We’ve relied on reading guides like The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt, and Fifty Books to Enjoy with Kids by Veronica Getskow. Reading guides typically give you an inside peek to what the book is about so you can gauge if it’s a good fit for your family.

We’ve found many a great book for kids just by asking for recommendations from friends. I love the comments on this post about family “read agains”; they’ve been invaluable in helping me find good kid books over the years.

If you don’t already, make reading hour a daily habit at your house this summer — and maybe all year long. (I don’t know why I don’t keep it up all through the school year. Note taken!)

Here are some posts from the archives that include tips for getting your kids interested in books as well as those that feature good reading recommendations for children and whole families:

How do YOU make reading hour work at your house?

DIY-on-a-DIME-summer-fun-125This post is part of the DIY on a Dime: Summer Fun series. For more ideas on how to enjoy the summer holidays on a budget, check out the list.

I know what we’re gonna do this summer.

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Comments

  1. I love the idea of having a reading hour. I’m impressed that you get even the four year-old to concentrate on books for an entire hour. I want to give some thought to how we can implement something similar this summer.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I’m not sure that she’s targeted the entire time. She’s my least into books kid. Probably since almost everyone else can read independently. I need to work on that.

  2. Everyone reads on their own for 30 minutes each week day morning. We go to the library every Tuesday to get books for the week.

    Every night at bedtime, I read aloud for 30 minutes. We try to find books that interest everyone. Right now we are reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonder Land and Through the Looking Glass. Next on our list for read alouds are Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

    We usually read literature and relgious oriented books during the summer. We save non-fiction, academic topics for the school year.

  3. Temps have been pleasant in the midwest and there’s nothing I love more than to get everyone outside with their books in the afternoon – a blanket on the grass, shade overhead, a water bottle and maybe a snack.

  4. For me, it’s the last thing before bed. Hopefully an hour (no kids, just cats and a hubby). It’s how I wind down.

    The other week I had a stack of library books at work to return on my way home. Apparently, none of my coworkers read for pleasure. I am still boggled by this.

  5. I too read and workout. Since I do break into a run I bring a book just for the warm up and cool down portions of my run. I also love reading on the stationary bike at the gym when I am doing recovery days from long runs. If you ever do break into a run audio books work well too! As for summer reading, I limit screen times to 1 hour a day weekdays and that right away causes the children to seek out books either in real paper form or audio book form. I love it when I walk past their rooms and hear a book being read out load on CD as well as the sounds of Lego being dug through for their latest creation. Feeding the mind and the creativity at the same time.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I listened to a podcast today while doing the weights. Good suggestion of the audio books!

  6. Jeanine says:

    Can you suggest good read alouds for a four year old boy? I am going to try Charlotte’s Web, but it is the only one I could think of so far that is around the level he could understand. (I have a bad, bad case of mommy brain.) I know you have four boys, so I’m sure you have many suggestions!

    • I have twin boys who are 8 and we started doing read alouds when they were that age. We read Charlotte’s Web when they were in kindergarten (so 5) and then the local high school was putting on the play of it so we went to see it too. Also Mouse and the Motorcycle and Farmer Boy were early read-alouds. The Magic Tree House books were good – I would start reading and they wanted to find out what happened so they would read on their own – that happened at about 6. http://www.4tunate.net is another place that has reading suggestions for boys – she has quad boys who are 6 or so. Follow your boy’s lead, try things even that you think he might not like, try a variety, including non-fiction. I’m always learning interesting historical tidbits from their books. My husband also reads aloud to our boys – I think that is super important as well. So let him choose things that he’s interested in reading, too.

    • I wouldn’t choose Charlotte’s Web for a 4 year old boy. Get your son involved in choosing what he wants you to read (as opposed to you reading what you think he wants.) Most boys like action type stories with a boy hero. I also like Magic Tree House books (but he may be a little too young.) June B. Jones books are great for preschoolers (this is a girl but she is so mischievous that boys will like this series too.) My son didn’t like dated books like the Box Car Children or Dr Seuss books (couldn’t relate to them.) Thomas the Tank Engine books are great for any boys who likes trains.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I read that to my 4yo as well as The Cricket in Times Square, The Little House Books, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc. I think it really depends on the child. My eldest LOVED listening to books from a very young age. Just try it and see.

  7. I started reading to my son when he was a baby. I would sit in the glider chair with him in my lap. It was a night time ritual. When he was in kindergarten, we would trade off reading pages. Finally we outgrew the glider chair (even though we were both skinny, we could no longer fit, side by side.) We decided to read on my bed for night time reading. My son is now 12 and we still read together every night at bedtime. He loves reading action books and is currently reading the Alex Rider series and I read right next to him with my iPad.

    I love our reading time together. It’s great for bonding Mother and Son (since I don’t play Call of Duty.) Sometimes I fall asleep now before he does.

  8. Can’t wait till my little guy is old enough for me to read longer books to him! For now I have to settle with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie :)

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      That works! I love picture books, too.

    • You can read any book you’re interested in out loud to your baby/ toddler. We read the first 3 Harry Potter books out loud to our daughter before her first birthday. Of course, she didn’t get anything from the stories, just the association of reading being a good family time each day. When they were preschool and early elem aged, they listened to the entire Magic Treehouse series in the car, along with several Little House books. There’s no bickering in the car when everyone wants to hear the story. They went on to read all f those same books on their own, and they remembered so many of the details when they learned those topics in school. We continued with reading novels aloud until our kids were in middle school, and schedules got busy, but maybe we should try to bring it back for summer.

  9. We’ve always been into reading, and when I first approached homeschooling 20+ yrs ago my #1 goal was (not for the kids to be able to read but……) for the kids to learn to LOVE to read. Didn’t want the mechanics of reading but the joy of it, so I read aloud a lot, taking their lead. Sometimes I thought the girls would love a book but found out later they didn’t, and I learned to not force a book or finish it because we started it.

    9 dc later and they all love to be read to, and all those that are able to read thoroughly enjoy reading for themselves. Our 25yod is visiting us (we are camping in Colorado) with her baby, and she listens while I read “Under Wildwood” to the rest of the family everyday. Its such a wonderful (free) family activity.

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