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What Should My Child Read this Summer?

Posted by Cecilie Zwick Coker on June 7, 2016 at 3:00 PM
Cecilie Zwick Coker

IMG_7345_1Earlier this week, I had one of my weekly conversations with my sister. She has two teenage daughters and a younger son named William. Her girls have always been eager readers, impressing me with the conversations around the novels they have read. As she and I were talking, she mentioned that William was sitting right next to her reading a book.

“So,” I asked, “What is he reading?”

“Well,” she paused and answered, " all William reads is non-fiction about world history. I’m sort of alright with it, but shouldn’t he be reading fiction too? He is missing out on so many wonderful stories.”

I answered, “He’s interested in world history, that’s wonderful! Let him read whatever he wants. ”

Find SOmething That INterests Your CHild

Sometimes there seems to be a whole lot of “shoulds” around reading. In my mind, children should not feel they need to read any particular genre. If children are interested, engaged, and eager to read something, let them read just that. What many experts recommend is wide reading. We want our children to learn about the world, and we want them to encounter text that will help them expand their vocabulary. The best way to do this is to find the types of books that our children want to read. And, it doesn’t matter what it is.

Local libraries cover a wonderful range of topics and present these topics in formats ranging from picture books, chapter books, non-fiction informative books, and graphic novels. Did you know that there are graphic novels about everything from photosynthesis to Louis Armstrong? And, did you know that there are books on everything from the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD to Marcus Persson’s creation of Minecraft? Interest is such a strong force in engaging readers. As you move from summer camp to the beach, to cooking, to gardening, engage your children in readings that might spark the interest you've seen in them during a summer activity.

Make Reading a Shared Experience with AudioBooks

Another way to spark excitement in summer reading is through audiobooks. During the summer, many families spend hours traveling from one destination to another. Listening to audiobooks during this time makes time pass more quickly. Listening to stories can also expose your child to new ideas and rich vocabulary. Another advantage of audiobooks is that children can listen to and understand books that might be too hard for them to read independently. This benefits younger readers, reluctant readers, and children with reading difficulties. If the topic or story is interesting to your children, the chances are high that they will listen intently, and in turn, might be excited about reading books that are similar to the ones they have all heard read out loud.

When my family and I go on long car trips, we always look forward to listening to audiobooks. Some of our favorites have included Junie B. Jones, The Castle in the Attic, Hatchet, Mr. Crenshaw, and Pax.  All four of us love listening to the audiobooks and engaging in the in-depth conversations that emerge about the characters, plot, and topic. Since we all know the same stories, we often end up having impromptu conversations comparing and contrasting the stories long after we’re done listening to them.

Re-Read a favorite Book

Sometimes children might want to re-read a story or revisit a series they have read. It is sort of like comfort food. It is something that they know, something that they are familiar with, and something that is predictable to them. Reading something a second or a third time gives them pleasure and strengthens their fluency.

As we start wondering how to keep our children reading during the summer months, we need to remember to tap into our children’s interests and to let them read whatever they want. Give them options and let them read. Just like I discussed with my sister, let William read what interests him. That’s what’s going to keep him close to a book all summer.

At Sanford,our goal is to foster a love of reading and to keep academic skills sharp through the summer. We have designed our summer reading program to reflect these goals. One important aspect of our summer reading program includes reading a book of choice. Discover why Sanford provides an exceptional education for students in preschool through 12th grade.

Summer Reading Tips  for Parents


Cecilie Coker is the Lower School librarian and Lower School French teacher for Sanford School, a Preschool-Grade 12 independent day school in Hockessin, DE. Originally from Oslo, Norway Cecilie received a bachelor's degree in sociology/anthropology and elementary education from Middlebury College. She then attended UMass, Boston, where she earned a master's degree in special education.


For Summer Reading Ideas:

Topics: Academics, Summer