Friday, June 1, 2012

Our Summer Reading Program

Do you ever feel disillusioned with the library's summer reading program?  At our old library, most of the required activities (to earn prizes) had nothing to do with reading at all.  Last year, we participated in the program at our new library, but the children's librarian critiqued the books my kids had read.  "Hmmm...don't you think that book is too easy for you now?"  she asked my fledgling reader.  To top it all off, I am too lazy to remember to write down every book that my kids read.  Sure, the older ones can physically do it themselves, but we all know how that goes.  

Still, when I mentioned not doing the reading program at all, my kids were disappointed as this has been a highlight of past summers.  We decided, instead, to create our own summer reading program with our own goals, incentives, and prizes.  One of the reasons we homeschool is to learn to know our own children and their needs so this summer reading program tailored to their individual abilities makes sense. For Gavin (who is 9 and a good, but reluctant, reader), each time he finishes a chapter book, he can choose a prize.  For Maddie and Owen (who are 7 and 5 and gaining reading confidence), the goal will be more time oriented than book oriented.  After they spend a designated amount of time reading and tell me about what they've read, they can earn a prize.  For Benjamin and Alaine (who are 3 and 1 and love to be read to), they can pick a prize each Friday. 

With five children, I needed this to be economical so I'm starting with a big bag of pinata fillers.  I plan to add to our stash over the summer so the kids don't get tired of the same surprises.  My goal is get as much as I can for $1 a week so the Target dollar section and the Goodwill will be my friend.  Brian has mentioned the idea of taking everyone out for ice cream at the end of our family summer reading program.  I think everyone wins with that plan! 


  1. Great idea!!! I may try this out with my kids.

    We stopped participating in our local library's book club. The first year, although the club was supposedly bilingual, the entire closing ceremony for awards were in French only (including the entertainer) and all the book prizes were in French.

    Last year, they LOST my daughter's book list and claimed that she had never participated. That's it for us!

  2. I LIKE this! I was at the library yesterday and totally forgot to look at their program. Oops.

    Question - what are you having Maddie and Owen read? My 6 year is is growing in his reading skills, but they are still very basic {lots of three letter words and some sight words}. I have a hard time knowing what books to get him that he can read without my help.

  3. It is so hard to find Easy Readers that are not too silly or have dumbed down stories. I guess it is hard to write a story with 3- and 4-letter words that has any substance, but we've found a few. I like the Puppy Mudge series by Cynthia Rylant. They are simple, but fun.

    Ready-to- Read ranks all their books by levels, but sometimes even the Level 1 books have bigger words that early readers are ready for. A couple of years ago, I discovered their their Pre-Level 1 series and it has given my kids a fantastic start until they feel ready to move on.

  4. I've started picking up lots of Easy Readers at thrift stores and yard sales. I try to look for ones that are at least funny or on a topic my kids enjoy, but it is hard to find ones that aren't too silly.

    I recently found a small stack of Green Light Readers and Hello Readers and scooped up 10 for $1.

    I also recently saw a reading incentive idea where the child got a new book as their prize. You could purchase the books second hand and get them fairly inexpensive that way.

    Right now all the east readers I buy are going away until Emahry starts reading. Then they may come out one at a time as rewards for reading.

  5. This is a wonderful idea, Kristin! I agree with you. My kids enjoy the program but the past few years weren't that great for us. In fact, I don't even think we did it at all last year.

    I think I'm going to borrow your idea and do this with my own kids this summer. :)

  6. whaaat?! our summer reading program is awesome! )I'm so scared our new library will be a let down!) we pick our books, the prizes are books (and t shirts), and there's story time, puppet shows, concerts, crafts ...

    but I will totally steal this idea next summer is SC's library is a flop!

    ps ... we buy all our Kindle stuff from Amazon. I always compare though, if the print book is cheaper, we still go with that. honestly, we've mostly only bought free old books. only a handful we've actually purchased.

  7. We stopped going to our Libary for lots of reasons, this is a fantastic substitute for the mediocre programs that are often offered. I love your idea. Thank you for sharing.


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