Pre-K

Growing Reader

6 Easy Ways to Get Outside and Read This Summer

by Erica Clark

Photo credit: Ross Anania, Blend Images/ Getty Images

The only thing better than curling up with a book and a cup of tea on a winter’s day is lounging in the summer sun with a book and a glass of lemonade.

Unfortunately, all too often kids associate “summer reading” with mandatory school book lists and tedious reading logs. However, there is no reason it has to be that way! If your kids groan at the idea of spending their summer days with their nose in a book, these ideas will inspire them (and the whole family!) to get outside and read.

1. Plan a Picnic
For younger kids, plan a themed picnic around a favorite picture book. Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar is perfect for this. Pack a lunch with the foods mentioned in the book — the healthful ones, at least! — and read the book with your kids as you fill your tummies.

Are you reading chapter books out loud to your kids? A wonderful book to read outside during a picnic with the kids is The Wind in the Willows. Share the tale of Mole and Rat as they spend their days boating on the river while your kids laze on the grass.

2. Combine a Book with an Art Activity
Many kids have trouble sitting still during reading time. Research has shown that kids, especially boys, learn better if they are moving. A great solution to the wiggles is to go outside with a sketchbook and a box of colored pencils. Kids can draw scenes from the story, or simply sketch the scene around them.

3. Go on a Walk
Reading doesn’t have to be restricted to storybooks. Go on a nature or birding walk with a guidebook. Reluctant readers who prefer hands-on learning to sitting at a desk will enjoy reading entries about birds, trees, or other natural wonders they encounter on a hike. For an added literacy benefit, kids can start their own nature journal, and record their findings.

4. Lie Under the Stars
Instead of cuddling indoors for a bedtime story, take the books outside and read under the stars. For added fun, let kids wear headlamps. If you have a yard, set up a cozy nook with weatherproof pillows and a string of fairy lights to create a magical reading space.

5. Start a Storytime
Do you notice that when you read to your kids in a public space other children sometimes sidle up to you and start listening in? Start an informal pop-up story time for others by sitting down at the playground with your kids and a stack of books. The more the merrier.

6. Plan a Scavenger Hunt
If your beginning reader is starting to feel frustrated with sounding out words, a scavenger hunt is a fun way to mix things up. Hide a prize or two in the yard and set up a series of clues using simple vocabulary and sight words.

Summer is the perfect time to show our kids that reading is not just for school assignments. Taking books outside is an enjoyable way to spend time learning and dreaming with the whole family, so get outside and read!