Summer Reading: The Battle Begins

Each summer, mothers and fathers across the country start hounding their children about summer reading. The nagging starts slowly - an occasional reminder here, a suggested trip to the library there. The nagging increases as the days go by, ultimately culminating in a crescendo of yelling, fighting, and tears the week before school begins again and alas, no books have been read.

While the battle to get your children reading this summer may not be as dramatic as this, it may be a challenge to get them to read books that have been assigned by school or simply to read a book for fun. Research shows that reading during the summer months may help students maintain academic skills throughout the course of the year. The focus on summer reading is so important that the Department of Education launched the "Let's Read. Let's Move." initiative in which Secretary Arne Duncan calls for children to read at least five books this summer and develop a healthy lifestyle.

Not sure how to get your child motivated to read? Check out these tips for making summer reading a blast!

Start nowIt's like ripping off a band-aid. Get your child's summer reading list from school and have her start checking off the books as she goes. Getting started before you settle into a routine of waking up late and hanging by the pool will make it much easier to tackle at least five books this summer.

Bring books on vacationDon't ask your kids what books they want to bring- just bring a bunch! You will be prepared for any rain days or shouts of boredom that may come your way while on vacation.

Practice what you preachSchedule family reading time every night. After lunch in my class we have D.E.A.R. time (Drop Everything and Read). We read every day- we do not miss a day! By scheduling the time- and modeling enjoyment in reading- you are incorporating reading into your lifestyle and avoiding it becoming a chore.

Offer incentives Non-material incentives like playing a board game together or a trip to the park may be all the motivation your child needs to get started. Schedule reading time for after dinner then schedule game time right after that. I use a lot of "First (activitiy) then (activity)" statements in class. Tell your children "First we will read, then we will (fun activity)." This gives children a sense of order and let's them anticipate what is coming next without anxiety. Make reading part of your routine and avoid the battle.

The key to summer reading is to make it enjoyable. Avoid battles by following these tips and staying calm. Show children how fun it is to sit with a book and let your imaginations run wild!

Jennifer Cerbasi teaches at a public school for children on the autism spectrum in New Jersey. As a coordinator of Applied Behavioral Analysis programs in the home, she works with parents to create and implement behavioral plans for their children in an environment that fosters both academic and social growth. In addition to her work both in the classroom and at home, she is also a member of the National Association of Special Education Teachers and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.