Families — keeping your child or teen reading over summer

Father and daughter reading at home.

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Learn ways parents, families, and whānau can support children or teenagers to read for pleasure over the holidays and avoid the summer slide.

Why reading for pleasure during the holidays is important

Children and teens who don’t read much over the long summer holidays can lose gains they've made in their reading levels and fluency over the year. This is true for all children, but especially for children who are already struggling readers. Children who keep reading over the summer holidays can avoid the 'summer slide' and may even make reading gains for the start of the next school year.

Research on the summer slide and summer reading

Help your child or teen read over summer

You don’t have to do what a teacher does. But you can help make sure they have something enjoyable to read. Summer reading is all about reading for pleasure. Even 10 minutes a day reading can make a big difference!

Members of your wider whānau — grandparents, aunties and uncles, and other family members — can also have a part to play. Technology makes it possible for long distance grandparents to share books through video tools such as Skype and social networking tools.

Know what your child's reading tests are at the end and beginning of the school year so you (and your child) can see how reading over summer makes a difference.

Reading at home — find out how you can motivate and support your child to read.

Let children and teens choose their reading and keep it fun

To encourage your child to read over the long summer break, take the pressure off and keep it fun. Summer reading is about reading for pleasure. Therefore it's important your child gets to choose what they read with the focus on relaxation and enjoyment.

  • Easy reading is OK — getting into the reading habit, enjoying what they're reading, and finishing more books is more important than difficulty level.
  • Help children choose 'just right' books. Practice the art of browsing and spotting interesting topics together.

Helping students choose books for reading pleasure

Engaging teens with reading

Avoid requirements for 'work' or 'study', such as writing book reviews. Instead, children and teens could keep a record of their reading through sites such as Goodreads, or taking note of the author/title/star rating.

Use our summer reading log (pdf, 346KB)

Provide plenty of reading material

Try a variety of formats and genres such as books, ebooks, comics, magazines and audio books.

Build your own summer library of borrowed, second-hand or new material.

My home library — tips on developing your home library by author Anne Fine.

Look at what's on offer at your public libraries

Visit the public library with children and choose plenty of books to borrow. Ask the librarian for advice about books to read.

Find out what they offer over the summer holidays, such as regular services, resources and programmes (including summer reading programmes).

Find out what how your school library could help

  • See if you can take out a family membership.
  • Talk to school library staff about summer holiday reading and suggestions for books to read.
  • Find out if you can borrow books at the end of term or whether the school library may be open at set times during summer holidays for students and families.

School libraries — encourage summer reading

Make time for reading each day

Children and teens need to read every day to maintain skills. As well as reading, it's great to just share books, look at the pictures and to talk about what children or teens are reading.

  • This might be a quiet time for children to read alone — it could be for 15 minutes, or just 3 bite-size sessions of 5 minutes a day.
  • Read aloud at bedtime.
  • Look at reading 'on the go' with ebooks.
  • Manage how much TV, gaming and other screen time children have.

Ideas to help with reading, writing and maths — fun ideas from the Ministry of Education.

Be a reading role model and read together

Show children that reading is fun and important. It's important for children to see you reading and to be read to by adults. Boys especially need male reading role models, ideally dads or other whānau.

Use reading aloud tips and other strategies

By reading aloud to your child and talking about books, you can help prepare them for learning to read and to keep them reading as they learn and grow. Children still enjoy and benefit from being read to long after they can read by themselves. Ask your child's teacher and school library staff for reading strategies you can use at home.

Reading together, as well as being fun, can help to build family relationships and close bonds between generations.

Reading aloud

Share your success stories

You can help your child's school and the public library gather evidence on summer reading initiatives by:

  • talking about your child’s reading with teachers and library staff — share observations about how much they've read and whether they enjoyed it
  • filling out any pre/post summer surveys from the school/public library about your experience using the library for summer reading — getting books, participating in activities.

Find out more