I just finished ordering my kids’ summer reading lists online and my 15-year-old is already halfway through George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
Now what? When do we get to have fun?
I spent page-turning summers as a kid discovering great books (The Chronicles of Narnia, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Bridge to Terabithia, The Killer Angels.) As an adult, two of my favorite books – In Cold Blood and The Son – were unexpected killer beach reads. I’m looking for another shoreline page-turner this year. More importantly, I’m looking for books that my kids will want to pick up – not because it’s required, but because they want to read for the pure joy of it.
I’m not sure that’s possible anymore.
Our view of reading as a summer pastime has shrunk so much that only 17 percent of parents recently said reading is a top priority this summer, according to a survey by Reading is Fundamental and Macy’s. A separate report from Common Sense Media found that only about a third of 13-year-olds report reading for pleasure less than twice a year.
This is happening despite the fact that children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers. Last year, an Institute of Education study – believed to be the first to examine the effect of reading for pleasure on cognitive development over time – found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in math, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16 than those who rarely read.
Ready to crack a good book open, kids?
Because sometimes it takes a little competitive spirit to get pages turning, here are some summer reading challenges for motivation.
- Miami-Dade Public Library System’s Summer Reading Program, June 7-July 19. Read for a minimum of two hours each week, then complete and return an entry ticket to be eligible for prizes like a John Green Box Set, Sony Playstation 4 or a Miami Seaquarium Dolphin Encounter.
- Broward County Library System’s Summer R.E.A.D.ing Program, June 7-Aug. 2. Pick up a game board at the library and play by “booking” a trip around the board, winning the chance to scores prizes like a Dolphins Home Game Club Level Experience for a family or an iPad3.
- The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, May 5-Sept. 5. Kids log their reading minutes each day to earn virtual rewards and try to set a new world record for summer reading.
- Barnes & Noble’s “Imagination’s Destination” summer reading kit and program give kids a free book when they read eight books over the summer.
- Pizza Hut Summer Reading Challenge, June 1-Aug. 15. Read five books to win a prize.
- Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge, May 15-July 17. Challenges kids to complete one of their reading lists to get a free book.
- TD Bank Summer Reading Program, June 1-Aug. 31. Kids with new or existing Young Savers accounts who read 10 books get $10.
- Chuck E. Cheese Reading Rewards, all year. Kids can earn 10 tokens for reading each day for two weeks.