Summer is a great opportunity for children to fall in love with reading again (or for the first time!) because they don’t have the pressure of school, tests and required reading. Even for homeschoolers who may have more flexibility during the year than traditional schoolers it is a change from the daily schedule (for those of us who take a summer break).
During these summer months children can pick out books that interest them and read for the pure enjoyment of it. Children will often read more and can gain a love and appreciation for books.
I remember when I was a little girl I loved going to the library and picking out books to read during the summer. My Mom and I would take regular trips to the library and I’d be free to browse and select books that peeked my interest. I have very fond memories of doing this and hope to give my own children the same types of positive memories of reading, books and the library.
Perhaps you too have fond memories of summer reading you’d like your children to experience. Or maybe you don’t have those types of memories but want your children to grow a love for reading.
Going to the library on a regular basis exposes children to books and gives them an opportunity to select and bring books home with them. Regular library trips in conjunction with reading programs that provide additional motivation for reading can be a great way for your kids to read more this summer. Passion for Savings has a complete list of free summer reading programs for 2015 that is definitely worth checking out.
But what do you do if your child doesn’t pick out many books on these library visits or they pick only one type of book and you’d love for them to be exposed to different genres and non-fiction books?
A simple and easy solution that can work extremely well is a strategically placed and welcoming basket of books filled with awesome books that you have chosen just for them.
It might sound overly simplistic and obvious but if you’ve never tried it before I have to tell you that it has worked really well for us.
How is a basket of books beneficial?
- It’s out of the ordinary. Children normally see books on their bookshelf so they look right past them because it’s “the same old stuff”. However, if you strategically place a welcoming basket of “new” books out on a table or on the floor they will often go right over to investigate.
- Since the books in the basket might be different from the books they’d choose to check out from the library they’ll be exposed to more types of books. They might even fall in love with a book or genre they wouldn’t have otherwise given a chance. In our home, our girls are typically only interested in fiction storybooks and pass by the non-fiction books when we go to the library. However, if they see those same books in the book basket they will always look at them and often ask me to read the books to them.
- Books your child owns but haven’t been read for a while can be remembered. Since your child may not have pulled any books off their bookshelf in quite some time they’ve forgotten about those awesome books they once loved. Put those books in a basket with other books for them to explore and reintroduce your child to their old favorites!
- It keeps books contained. A reading basket is a great way to keep library books in one location. When it’s time to take your library books back just scoop the books out of the basket and take them with you to the library to be returned. Or just take the whole basket, books and all, with you!
- A basket of books can used with a wide variety of ages. You can put together a basket of board books for a baby not even walking yet just as well as a basket of chapter books for a child in their elementary years.
- This is a perfect way for your children to take their reading materials with them wherever they go. The basket can be carried around and moved from room to room and even outside.
- It’s fun! Okay, I might be alone with this one but I find it so enjoyable to put together baskets of books for my kids. It’s even more rewarding for me to see them get excited about the books they pull out of the basket.
- Kids read more! Children will (hopefully) go back to their basket of books over and over again until most or all of the books have been read. Then can refill it with new books!
If you choose to create individual reading baskets for each of your children there is one additional benefit:
It feels like a special surprise with a little library of books just for them. How awesome is that?!
Once you decide to create a basket of books for your child here are 8 important tips for putting it together:
- Gathering books for the basket is the most time-consuming part of the process but there are tools available to help you. For younger children, you can put together a themed basket using any of the book lists available here. For children reading on their own, Imagination Soup has put together book lists for 1st through 8th grade that you can print. Otherwise, talk to the librarian at your local library and see what recommendations they might have.
- When you are putting together the basket of books for your child, put a variety of different books in it and also different difficulty levels. I like to mix things up for my reader and include books that are simple for him to read along with some that are more challenging. That way he has options depending on how he feels when he looks through the books. I know that even as an adult I am the same way. When I’m tired and want to read something I will choose the book that is an easy read versus the one that takes more brain power to get through.
- Make sure you include books you know your child will enjoy. While it’s a great idea to expose them to different types of books, you don’t want them to look through the books and immediately shove the basket away because there is nothing of interest to them. So include books you are pretty certain they’ll read along with those that are different from their usual picks.
- Switch out books as often as necessary. For my reader, I have 24 books in total for the summer reading basket. I will put 8 in the basket now, the next 8 once the first 8 are read (or there is no longer an interest) and then the last 8 after that. We can renew our library books for up to nine weeks which won’t get us through the whole summer but certainly a large chunk of it.
- A large rectangular basket works best but if you already have a round basket on hand then use it. Make things as simple as possible. Michael’s craft store has a nice selection of baskets if you are interested in purchasing something.
- If your child hasn’t shown a great interest in reading books and you believe they won’t even approach the basket, consider putting in a cute little stuffed animal peeking it’s head out or something else to draw their attention to it.
- If you don’t have the time or energy to print out the cutesy-tootsey graphic and attach it to the basket then please skip it and don’t feel guilty! The most important thing is for your child to have books available to read. If you have time and want to attach the graphic then that’s great but it’s certainly not necessary.
- If you decide to attach the graphic then you’ll need to print it, laminate it, cut off the edges, use a single hole punch to punch two holes near the top middle and then thread a ribbon through and attach it to the basket. It took me less than 10 minutes to put the basket together (after I’d already gathered the books).
Here is a free printable for you to attach to your child’s basket of books. I have included both a girl and a boy version so that it’s perfect for their own personal basket of books. Also included is a boy/girl version with two children on it in case you’d rather have a central basket of books for your children to share rather than individual baskets.
Best wishes for an amazing summer filled with lots of good memories of reading together with your children!