Summer Challenge: For the Love of Reading

It’s that time of year again when summer reading challenges abound! Last summer, my kindergarten graduate and I embarked on our very first reading challenge together. Reading was brand new for him, and still a bit intimidating. His goal for the summer was to read 50 books. We drew a poster with shelves of books, and every time he finished one, he got to color in a picture. Once he read all the “shelves,” we celebrated with dinner at his favorite restaurant. 

The challenge was perfect for that particular season. For a child in that brand-new-reader zone, reading a large amount of words is key. But now, a year later, we’ve transitioned into this sweet new season of reading for enjoyment.

I knew the exact moment it happened, too. One night, several months ago, I walked by my kids’ bedroom around 10 PM. There, perched on the edge of his bed with a book tilted at just the right angle toward the light from the hallway, was my son, completely engrossed in an Encyclopedia Brown book. I had to call his name three or four times before he tore his eyes from the page. I told him it was time for lights out, but the Book Lover inside me was jumping up and down with excitement. 

Last year, our summer reading was all about quantity. This year, we’re focusing on quality.

Instead of creating a chart and setting a goal for a certain number of books, our plan is to pick a few – maybe two or three – and take our time digesting each one. Now that I know my son has a hunger for reading, the last thing I want to do is turn it into an obligation and drain the fun from it. 

Last year, our summer reading was all about quantity. This year, we’re focusing on quality. @MTHolloman #summer #amreading #parents

Does that mean that reading charts and challenges are bad or unhelpful? Of course not! There’s a season for each type of reading strategy, and the best thing you can do for the child in your life is whatever works best for his or her unique needs. 

Whether you decide to focus on the number of books read, amount of time reading, reading out loud, or reading quietly, the most important thing is to keep it low pressure and to be “in it together” with your child. The benefits of reading together can’t be overstated, but don’t let the social pressure of some fancy impressive reading challenge steal your joy from the process. You know your child best, so find what works, and go for it! 

Below is a short list of some great read alouds to get you started and stir the love of reading in the heart of your child.

  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Stuart Little by E.B. White
  • The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Bunny’s Book Club by Annie Silvestro
  • Encyclopedia Brown by Donald Sobol

What books would you add to this list? Have fun!

Summer Challenge: For the Love of Reading @MTHolloman #Family #Readinglist

8 thoughts on “Summer Challenge: For the Love of Reading

  1. Mary, your advice to plan sumner reading according to each child’s needs is wise. I rejoiced over your discovery your son had become an enthusiastic reader. The love of books you’ve instilled will serve him well.


  2. These many years past, I still wonder if those books from the bookmobile were what saved my sanity as a young child. Was it escapism or merely a brief interlude that allowed me to reach beyond the realities of my life then and find peace in fanciful destinations, become enthralled by a great mystery, or begin to write my own adventures and a life I could only dream about. Yes, God used books to save my life. I love that you’re teaching your little ones to read, explore, and grow with books Ms. Mary. Wish I could remember the name of the speech pathologist/teacher who introduced me to books as a way to learn more words, but I have her to thank for a career and a lifetime of learning.


    1. I’m placing these ideas in my hip pocket with hopes my grandson and I will enjoy summer reading like this!


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