Family Summer Reading Strategy

Prevent the dreaded summer slide with a summer reading program for the whole family!

Author and book enthusiast Teri Harman has the motivating tips, book suggestions, and a free download to help us along.

Reading experts and teachers all agree that it is vital to a child’s continued progression and success in school to read during the summer months. But not only does summer reading keep kids ready to go back to school, it is also the best time of year to spark of love of reading that will last a lifetime.

Fill Your Summer Bookshelf (A fun tracking and incentive program for summer reading)

Studio 5 and Teri Harman have created a very simple, fun and effective way to track and encourage summer reading. Download the bookshelf graphic here and print it at your local Staples as an engineer print for $3-6 – recommended size 24 X 36. An engineer print is a large black and white print job.

Then download the little books sheet here and print as many as you need. Cut out books.

The bookshelf has six shelves, each one representing two weeks of summer. Use the books to track time reading or books read. For example, for every book a six year old reads, she gets to put a little paper book on the family shelf. Or for a teen, for every 20 minutes of reading, a little book goes up.

Include incentive/prizes at the end of each two weeks. Some reward ideas: favorite treats, outing with the family, family movie night, trip to the bookstore, freedom from a chore for a day.

Tips for Summer Reading

Let kids choose! When a child realizes that she can read about anything and everything she loves, then she will be a reader. Encourage your child to pursue her interests — whether they are science, history, cooking, animals, fantasy or paranormal.

Have a list of suggestions! Yes, kids should be able to choose the books they want to read, but it’s also a great idea to know what is out there so you can guide them to the books they will love. If you’re worried about content, read possible books before suggesting to your child or check content rating websites, like

Think beyond the binding! Reading is not limited to books. Not all kids, particularly boys, want to read novels or storybooks all summer. If you have a child like this, then think beyond books. Consider nonfiction material like that found in magazines, comic books, online resources and even newspapers (all of which can be found at the library).

Make it interactive! Be interactive. Ask children and teens about what they are reading. Have younger children — after reading them the same storybook several times — retell the story to you. Have discussions about what they like or dislike about what they’ve read. Encourage them to ask questions. These interactions develop critical reading skills and make reading a way to bond as a family.

Make the time! Finally, set aside daily reading time. Just like everything else in life, if you don’t plan for it, reading time will get overlooked. The 20- to 30-minute time frame does not have to be all at once, especially with younger children whose attention spans are about as many minutes as they are old. Break it down into 5- to 10-minute blocks if that works better for your family — you may even get in more reading time this way. Read with your children, either reading to younger children or reading on your own next to them.

Book Suggestions for Summer Reading

Little Kids (0-8)
1 – “Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade” by Melissa Sweet

2 – “The Fantastic Flying Book of Mr. Morris Lessmore” by William Joyce

Young Readers (9-14)
1 – “Pippi Longstocking” by Astrid Lindgren

2 – “Case File 13: Zombie Kid” by J. Scott Savage

Teens (15-18)
1 – “On Little Wings” by Regina Sirois

2 – “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card

1 – “Fairy Godmother’s Inc.” by Jennifer Wardell

2 – “Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II” by Mitchell Zuckoff

For more book lists, suggestions and reviews, visit

Goodreads Giveaway of a SIGNED ARC (advanced reviewers copy) of BLOOD MOON by Teri Harman

Enter for a chance to win a SIGNED ARC, one of only a few pre-release printings of Teri Harman’s debut novel, BLOOD MOON, a witch fantasy.

Go to to see how to enter and for more about BLOOD MOON. Good luck!

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