7 Summer Reading Tips + Free Bookmarks

smiling girl wearing glasses reading a book, more big books in background

Summer reading programs are more important than ever this year. Experts say that the challenges of coronavirus and online learning mean kids may return to school this fall with only 70% of the reading gains achieved in typical school years.* We’ve got tips to help kids (and parents) stay on track.

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Smart Starts for Summer Reading

1 MAKE A FAMILY PLAN. Everyone feels more empowered if they have a seat at the table. Get the family together to discuss summer reading plans. Are there school reading recommendations or requirements to fulfill? Are kids participating in library or summer camp reading programs? Continue to tips 2 and 3 for more discussion family reading plan topics. 

2 SET REALISTIC GOALS. What summer reading goals might kids and adults share? How much time ought to be dedicated to reading each week? How will this time be organized (minutes per day or week; read every weekday)? Will kids have to record their minutes on a school- or library-provided log? Note goals and plans on a sheet of paper and post on your refrigerator or family bulletin board for easy reference.  

3 LET KIDS CHOOSE THEIR OWN BOOKS. If your child is drawn to popular fiction, non-fiction or technical writing, or wants to read title after title from a favorite series, independent reading choices are something to celebrate. As long as selections are age-appropriate and meet any school requirements, let your young reader lead the way.

Download these free bookmarks to your computer, print and tuck into every book to record minutes and pages read.

As they finish each title, kids can transfer the information onto school or library reading logs. Bonus: Each bookmark represents a reading goal completed. And that growing stack of bookmarks is so satisfying!

Make Reading Fun for All

4 READ, REFRESH, REPEAT! Refreshments can make reading time extra fun – and can be as simple or complex as you and your family would like. Sliced fruit or veggies with dip, cheese and crackers, and muffins or granola bars are all great options. Taking turns preparing snacks is another way to involve everyone in the reading campaign. 

5 READ ALOUD OR READ ALONG. Read aloud to pre-readers and grade schoolers – there’s no reason bedtime stories can’t be counted as part of summer reading time! For middle or high school students, read one of the books they have chosen. Whether you read aloud or along, sharing reading experiences creates opportunities for rich conversations. “What do you think will happen next?” “Do you think the main character made the right choice?” “What would you have chosen to do?” 

6 SET A GOOD EXAMPLE. Keep reading materials around the house. Set aside some time each week to unplug and have everyone (adults and kids) read. Take a few minutes to share funny, fascinating or inspiring passages by reading them aloud – and encourage others to do the same.  

Take Storytime Anywhere

7 MIX THINGS UP. Read outdoors on sunny days. Create a family room fort with blankets and pillows for a nighttime “read-in.” Audiobooks are another way to discover great stories, especially for reluctant readers. Play an audiobook while doing household tasks, like folding laundry, or taking a family road trip. 

gif of dad reading to child, child with book, company logos

Zulily is proud to partner once again with Save the Children in support of their 100 Days of Reading campaign. The campaign’s goal is to help curb summer learning loss while providing support and resources for kids in rural America. For every Penguin Random House book sold on Zulily.com during BOGO events taking place between June 22-August 3, 2020, Penguin Random House will donate one book to Save the Children (up to 50,000 books). Learn more at SavetheChildren.org/READ.

*Dr. Megan Kuhfeld & Dr. Beth Tarasawa, The Collaborative for Student Growth at NWEA https://www.nwea.org/content/uploads/2020/05/Collaborative-Brief_Covid19-Slide-APR20.pdf