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Summer reading programs: a fun and educational way for kids to keep busy

  • Written by ARA

(ARA) — Motivating your children to read during the summer can be a daunting task. After all, once school lets out, the last thing most kids want to think about is more books.

However, studies show that children who read several books during the summer maintain or surpass the reading skills developed during the previous school year. The key is to find ways to motivate kids to read during the lazy days of summer - and to make it fun.

From incorporating movie watching into their summer reading routine to rewarding them with trips to the water park, you can find many ways to give kids the incentive to read during the summer.

Give kids an incentive to read

Just telling your kids that their grades will be better next year by reading during the summer won’t work. Children often need something tangible to motivate them to do something that might be farther down their list than other summer activities. There are several summer reading programs available, such as TD Bank’s Summer Reading Program, that offer rewards. TD Bank’s program rewards kids with $10 for reading 10 books over the summer, with the money deposited into a new or existing Young Saver bank account. More about the program can be found at www.tdbank.com/summerreading.

You can also offer kids incentives that show them the benefits of hard work. Incorporate a bonus into their weekly allowance — one book per week equals a certain amount of bonus allowance. Or set a total goal that, if reached, will reward them with that long-sought video game, pair of athletic sneakers or trip to their favorite restaurant or amusement park.

Another motivational tool is to choose books that have been made into movies, like "Twilight" or "Harry Potter," says Elizabeth K. Warn, president of the TD Charitable Foundation and senior vice president of community development for TD Bank.

"Watch the movies after your child has read the book and compare and contrast the differences," says Warn. "If the movie is out in theatres during the summer, use a trip to the movies as extra motivation to read the books."

Be proactive in their reading programs

Just like homework, sometimes kids need that extra push to meet their summer reading goals. When time permits, sit down with your child while he or she is reading and help with difficult words or phrases by having them read out loud. This helps reduce frustration, especially for very young readers.

Another way to keep your kids excited about summer reading is to turn the experience into a group "play date." Coordinate with other parents in your neighborhood to create a summer reading book club and take turns coordinating the reading sessions weekly, biweekly or monthly throughout the summer.

Incorporate family activities into kids’ summer reading

Like most families, you probably have a family vacation scheduled at some point during the summer. Leading up to your vacation, try to find books at your local library or book store that tell stories about the area where you will be vacationing. If you are planning a family day trip to the zoo or beach, find books about animals or beach activities. Finally, find ways to have fun discussions with your kids about the books they are reading. Ask plenty of questions to get them talking about the characters, stories and what they liked or disliked about the books. The key, again, is to stay involved and find ways to motivate your kids.

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