My kids always wanted summer to be free from normal academics and, since my own childhood never included schoolwork in the summertime, I was understanding of their desire to take a long break between school years. The one thing we DID do each summer was to read books, and we made it fun by creating a summer reading program. There was a wonderful children’s bookstore in our town that ran a sweet summer reading contest with prizes given at the end of the summer if kids hit their goals. We only did the store’s program for a couple of summers, but it got us in the habit and I simply created our own program in subsequent years. Here’s what we did:
I created a simple document and each child wrote their goal for “Pages Read” over the summer. There was a start and end date (usually between the last day of school and Labor Day weekend in the Fall). The rule was that mom had to approve the book choices. I wanted them reading quality literature at their reading level. Sometimes I required a variety of subjects/kinds of books like historical, non-fiction, fiction, etc… I also initialed after each title added to the list, confirming that they had indeed read it. At the end of the summer, we all went out to ice cream or frozen yogurt to celebrate their accomplishments. If you have boys, the element of competition is often motivating.
You can grab a copy of that Summer Reading Record form along with links to our favorite summer books here:.
Quality booklists made this project so much easier. Here are a few we used over the years:
Exodus Books - Outside of a Dog Booklists are organized by grade level, by series, classics, etc.. I love that they got the name of their booklists from this quote:
Another favorite source for book ideas is The Read-aloud Revival. Sarah Mackenzie has a wonderful podcast and website where she interviews children’s authors and publishes a free booklist.
Finally, for younger children, I have several picture booklists HERE. These are our family’s favorites - the ones my teens still pick up from time to time because they hold so many fond memories of cuddling up on the couch together over the years.
I hope this gives you some ideas as you wrap up the school year and start imagining what your kids will do all summer. Let me know how you do summer at your home. Do you take the summer off of school or do enrichment throughout the summer months? Let me know in the comments!