5 tips to keep your kids reading this summer

With school out of session and plenty of free time, the summer is a perfect time to pick up a book. To mark the occasion, we talked with local librarians who gave us their advice for promoting and developing a love of reading in children over the summer. Without further ado, below are five tips.

1. Follow their interests: North Adams Public Library's youth service librarian, Sara Russell-Scholl, urges parents to allow kids to read what they're passionate about in the summer months. "During the school year, there's lots of criteria for what and how much kids read," said Russell-Scholl. Summer reading should be fun, encouraging, positive and less stressful. By encouraging kids to read what they enjoy early on, it will lead to a lifelong love of reading." What's most important for young kids is fostering in them a love of reading in general.

2. Find the right difficulty: Kirsten Rose, the children's librarian at David and Joyce Milne Public Library in Williamstown, emphasized the importance of knowing the reading level of a book before giving it to your child. "Making sure a book isn't too hard or too easy is important — but often that is a somewhat tricky line to walk," said Rose. "Some kids thrive with a challenge, but for others that can be a major obstacle. But if a book is too babyish or simplistic, it won't hold their attention either. It's pretty individual — so it is different for every child."

3. Think outside the book: The youth librarian at the Stockbridge Library, Jenney Maloy believes that external motivations can backfire for some young readers. Instead, she encourages parents to try multiple strategies to make the initial reading experiences more accessible and fun. "Graphic novels can be a great entryway into more challenging books. Listen to audio books in the car; read chapter books together, taking turns," said Malony. "For children who are really resistant to reading, try focusing on learning a new skill instead. Use books to learn magic tricks, level up in Minecraft, create Star Wars origami or cook up some delicious treats! Any time spent with text is time well spent!"

4. Constant exposure: Rosemarie Borsody of the Lee Library stressed frequent exposure of text to kids starting from a very young age. "Kids should be exposed to books on an everyday basis," said Borsody. "Displaying a wide variety of books really helps. It's important to encourage reading of any kind — whether it be at home or at the grocery store, a book or a newspaper, fiction or nonfiction. Everything counts!"

5. Use the services provided at your local library: Laurie Harrison, the children's librarian at the Great Barrington Public Library, believes the summer reading programs provided by local libraries helps make reading a normal and rewarding part of children's lives. "Parents ought to utilize their local public library to help make books and reading a normal part of summer. Here we incentivize reading to make summer reading more fun. We have an online summer reading program where kids or parents login reading to become eligible for that week's prize drawings — gift certificates from awesome local businesses, free books and toys. Educational activity sheets can also be completed for prizes. The children's librarian can help recommend books to reluctant readers. We understand what they're looking for."


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