Tips on getting kids to crack a book this summer

Parents share low-cost ways of motivating children to read and write.

Brittany Greer in Queen Creek, Ariz., has her 8-year-old daughter read aloud from the cookbook when Ms. Greer is making dinner and count out the change when she's paid to do chores. The girl plays teacher, too, since she loves bossing around her younger siblings.

Greer is one of 45 "mom bloggers" who recently promoted summer reading and solicited tips from other parents as part of a book-giveaway contest sponsored by McGraw-Hill Education.

One response to her recent blog post came from a mom who does a "siesta" with her children each day after lunch: "We go into my bedroom (one of the coolest rooms in the house) and all lay in my bed with a book for an hour or so until it cools back down. It is a real treat for them to lay in momma's bed as I don't usually allow kiddos in my bedroom."

Sending a child off alone to read is not necessary. Kids are motivated to read "because of the connections it gives them with other people," says Tim Shanahan, a professor, children's author, and former president of the International Reading Association. Here are some of his tips, featured in the blogging campaign:

Ask questions. Even if you are not reading the same books they are, talk to your children about what they are reading. Ask questions such as what happened in the story or what might happen next, who is their favorite character, or who is the villain. This builds summarization and recall skills, and your interest helps increase their interest.

Find reading opportunities everywhere. If you are taking a trip this summer, send for brochures and maps and have your children read them aloud with you.

Plan an outcome activity. Whether you are reading to your children or they are reading themselves, plan an event or activity based on the reading. For instance, if the book has been made into a movie, watch the DVD together after reading the book. Book reading can lead to picnics, museum visits, ball games, or even family vacations.

Write letters to your children. Writing to your kids is a great opportunity to remind them of experiences they had when they were younger or to tell them about the lives of older people in the family, like their grandparents. Kids love getting letters and you can even encourage them to write back, helping them practice written expression.

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