Make Summer Reading a Success

As a librarian, I’ve seen the “summer reading scramble” every year – where students can’t find any of the books on their school-issued reading lists because they waited until the last minute to get started. Then we librarians are left to deal with frustrated kids and parents.

To put it simply, August is a librarian’s least favorite month

Now, I get it. Kids and teens typically don’t want to spend their summer reading (unless they’re those weird kids like I was at that age). Anything that has to do with school is the last thing on their minds and they don’t want to deal with it. After all, summer vacation is pretty short. Still, summer reading is something that I think is pretty important. Reading keeps those brain cells working out… it’s basically fitness for your brain.

Do I think that some schools need to be more lenient on their reading lists? Yes, they most certainly do. That’s not to say I don’t think the classics aren’t important, but if you want kids to read during their summer vacation you might want to get some more intriguing books on those lists (remind me to write a letter to my local schools after this).  In any case, whether school systems modernize their summer reading lists or not… I think I have some suggestions to help make summer reading more tolerable for students that are reluctant to get it done.

7 Ways to Make Summer Reading Easier for Kids/Teens

Buddy Read

Sometimes reading a book with a friend can help you get through it. You have someone to talk to about what you’re reading. Granted, that’s no different than discussing a book in class, but at least you’re not getting graded or judged on what you think of the book while you’re reading.

Reward System

It’s a classic move, but it can work for some kids/teens. Let them have extra screen time, a longer curfew, or do something they enjoy if they spend so many minutes reading (maybe 30 minute increments). And this is probably in bad form, but I’m not a parent, but I’d even pay the kids to read if they really hated it that much (see why I’m not a parent?).

Library Programs

Most libraries will have summer reading events targeted for kids and teens to get them reading. A lot will offer raffle prizes at the end of the summer (which you get tickets for by finishing a book) and will just have fun parties to celebrate the end of it all. It’s a good way to find a buddy to read with or just find a way to get excited about reading.

Ask a Librarian

Librarians always have recommendations for those who are more reluctant to read. Sometimes we even know good alternatives to the classics, or modern retellings, that students can read to get used to the classic story before reading the real thing. If your reading list is more lenient with what you choose to read, then we can definitely help you find a book you’ll enjoy!


This one is huge! A lot of students just don’t like the act of reading words on a page. Maybe they don’t retain it as well because they’re audio-learners. The best case would be to find the audiobook version of a book on their reading list. They might enjoy it more than actually reading it themselves.

Graphic Novels

Don’t knock it ’til you try it. If students are more into comic books than novels, see if any books on their reading lists are available in graphic novel format. In fact, I think some reading lists have included graphic novels in the past few years. It’s another good alternative to those students that just don’t like words on a page.

Read the book with them

This might work more for younger students, not so much teens, but if parents read the books with them, it might make them enjoy the book more. Kind of like buddy-reading, but with a parent. Or set aside reading time for the family – while they read their summer reading books, you read your own ‘summer reading’ books with them. That way they’re not alone while reading.

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Hopefully some of these suggestions will help to motivate students to get their summer reading done earlier this year and not wait until the last second! Also if anyone has any other suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments and share! I’m really hoping this will help at least a few parents and students this summer!

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