7 Ways to Engage your Reluctant Reader this Summer


It can be a tough task to engage your child in summer learning, especially if you have a reluctant reader on your hands. Thankfully, there are some fun and easy ways to incorporate reading without going overboard.

Most kids know the importance of reading through the summer without their parents pleading with them to crack open a book, according to Scholastic’s Kid & Family Reading Report.

  • The national survey found that 77% of kids ages 17 and under agree that reading over the summer will help them during the school year. 
  • However, it also found 20% of kids ages 6 -17 didn’t read a single book during the summer of 2018.

Any educator will tell you that students who read over the summer are better prepared for the start of the new school year in the fall. So here are some tips and book recommendations to turn your kids into happy readers over summer break and solve next year’s bad grades before they start.

How do you get your reluctant reader to actually read?

1. Select a book in a series.

One of the best ways to get reluctant readers excited to read more is to find a book series they love. If they enjoy the story and characters, they’ll likely want to know what will happen next and will be excited to start the next book in the series.

Free summer reading tips PDFKeep reading this blog for a full list of our 2022 summer book series recommendations.

You can also download our list to take with you on your next trip to the library!

This PDF includes our book recommendations for kids ages 6 – 12, plus our seven tips to get reluctant readers to actually read this summer.

2. Pick books that are kid-tested.

Even reluctant readers, including boys with ADHD, will devour a book when you find material that interests them. The story should be easy to read and should grab their attention right away.

Does your fifth grader enjoy dragons? Find stories or graphic novels about dragons. How about an eighth-grader who enjoys cars and motorcycles? Find a book on repair or popular models.

Encouraging students to select books that they actually want to read is key. I love the Scholastic website, which allows parents and their kids to peruse books by reading level and interest. If you are unsure if the content is age-appropriate, you can also check Common Sense Media for age recommendations and reviews from parents and kids.

3. Everyone in the family should read, not just kids.

At the start of the summer, parents AND kids should choose a book. When kids see that their parents and siblings are reading, they are much more likely to do so themselves. Pair reading with relaxation in the evening for the whole family. It could be a book, a magazine, or even the sports section of the morning paper. The material isn’t important, but the act of relaxing and reading is what counts.

And if you follow our first two tips about finding the right material and getting them hooked on a series, you’ll find that your kids may fall in love with their reading time…

4. For young children, try reading with your child.

You read a page, she reads a page.  And if you have a really reluctant reader, you read two pages, and she reads one. Over time, you can scale back and allow your reluctant reader to take most of the pages.

5. Consider audiobooks and eBooks.

We all know that our kids love their electronic devices. Consider buying/checking out books to read on a Kindle, Nook, or iPad. Kids like being able to customize colors and fonts, and it’s convenient to be able to carry so much material in their pockets.

Audiobooks provide educational value, as well. They help enrich a child’s vocabulary and encourage them to process the information they hear. Pairing an audiobook with a physical book is a great way to help young children learn to read.

Anything that makes reading fun and easy is a great chance to get your kids involved in reading over the summer.

6. Consider a summer reading challenge.

There’s a good chance your local library or your child’s school district is offering a free summer reading challenge to encourage kids to keep reading. If not, there are plenty of online challenges out there, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Through Scholastic’s Home Base Summer Program, kids can read free eBooks, attend author events, and keep track of their reading streaks. Camp BOOK IT!  Helps kids set and keep track of monthly reading goals and rewards them with free pizza.

7. Enlist help from a tutor or executive function coach.

A tutor/coach can engage your child and uncover the reasons behind the reluctance, offer solutions and open the door to the exciting world of books.

At Educational Connections, we incorporate summer reading with all of our one-to-one tutoring and executive function programs. If you’d like to set your child up with a tutor or EF coach for some academic encouragement during the school break, it’s not too late! Click below to schedule your free consultation to discuss the ways we can help your child keep up or get ahead this summer.

Getting your kids to read over the summer is well worth the effort, and with these strategies, you may find that they will actually love it!

Our Summer 2022 Book Recommendations

Here are some of our favorite book series for reluctant readers for the summer of 2022:

Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park (6+)

This series is easy to read and features one funny kid! The main character is “filled with spunk, sass, and determination” and will keep young readers coming back for more laughs.

Bad Guys series (6+)

This graphic novel series entices reluctant readers to tag along as the heroic characters take one epic adventure after another to save the world.

Horrid Henry series by Francesca Simon (7+)

The stories in this series are easy for kids to relate to. Kids will want to keep reading to discover what kind of trouble Horrible Harry will get into next time.

I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis (8+)

This fast-paced historical fiction series captivates young readers by focusing on a disaster (like shark attacks, earthquakes, etc.) from the perspective of a child who lived through it.

Squish series by Jennifer and Matthew Holm (8+)

Squish is a cute and clever graphic novel series about a comic book-loving amoeba and his friends who are trying to find their place in the world. It’s funny stuff with a good message about making the right choices.

Percy Jackson series (9+)

The adventures in this series, filled with monsters and mythological heroes, will keep your child entertained for hours. Each fast-paced story follows the adventures of a half-mortal, half-Greek god and his friends.

Wings of Fire series by Tui Sutherland (10+)

This New York Times and USA Today bestselling series follows the tales of dragon tribes and their battles, prophecies, and friendships. Many of the stories are told from the point of view of young dragons with humanlike traits and emotions.

The Last Kids on Earth series by Max Brallier (ages 11+)

This best-selling series follows school kids through a cartoonish end-of-the-world apocalypse. They team up to fight off zombies, monsters, and challenges while enjoying a lot of junk food and video games in the process.

Theodora Boone series by John Grishman (ages 12+)

The main character in this thrilling mystery series is a 13-year-old aspiring lawyer. He uses his knowledge and investigative skills to solve crimes, seek justice, and hook readers.

Looking for books for reluctant teen readers? Check out the New York Public Library’s Summer 2022 Picks for Teens.