Last year my summer reading strategy was simple. Bribery. Big reading goals tied to one big prize per kid: 10 books. 2 oral reports. 1 final prize.
Judge me if you want. I don’t care. Last summer’s bribery success justified its questionable moral platform. The kids devoured their books, we had great discussions about them, and they loved their fall prizes.
But the war that is getting your kids to love to read is not won with just one weapon. This summer, they had no appetite for bribery or reading. Halfway though the summer, their nightstands were bare. As the carrot had no appeal, I had to go old school and embrace the stick. Have no fear. I didn’t beat them to read. IN their eyes, I did something much worse. I took away the electronics.
Every morning, all electronics, whether wall based or palm based are under lock and key until the day’s reading goal has been met. No prizes. No begging. Just plain old deprivation.
Reading is like a muscle. After a few days of complaining, the stories have begun to be the reward in themselves. Between the lure of the freedom of outdoors and the call of the bright screens, getting the kids to sit down with a book is a challenge. But I’m hoping I have found the weapon to get us through the rest of the summer and get them back to school with their reading skills still strong.
Here are some of the titles that have been keeping Juju (an incoming 3rd grader) engaged this summer:
- The Tail of Emily Windsnap a fantasy novel by Liz Kessler and Sarah Gibb.
- Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick – this huge illustrated novel is a great confidence builder for kids who are just beginning to get into plot. The arresting illustrations every few pages keep them reading this marvelous story by the author of the Invention of Hugo Cabret.
- Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman – A short but hilariously wacky story that only Neil Gaiman could concoct. Also well illustrated with a fast moving plot.
Give us more suggestions as we keep moving through the summer. We’ve had many more fails than we’ve had hits. The Rainbow Fairies are now “dull and always the same story” (I have to agree!) The Bailey School Kids are “so boring”. The Sixty-Eight Rooms were sold too aggressively by me (but I haven’t given up!). The Summer Reading War is long and the best weapon is a great book.