Summer is in full swing in the U.S., and Amazon is here to help families keep reading top of mind.
This summer, Amazon is offering two programs geared toward inspiring a love of reading and encouraging kids to discover new worlds through books. Journey into Reading features a rotating list of topics with age-appropriate reading recommendations, selected by teachers and Amazon Books editors. The second program, the Summer Reading Challenge, runs in Amazon Books locations from June 15 through August 23 and is open to children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Children who read at least seven books while participating in the Summer Reading Challenge can turn in a sign-up sheet to receive a personalized certificate and one free book from select National Geographic Kids titles.
Journey into Reading highlights a new topic or genre every week, such as The Great Outdoors or Fantasy. Several curated book selections are chosen for each topic, so parents can use their child’s interests to guide book selections.
“If they love sports, try introducing them to stories—novels or nonfiction—about athletes or a particular sport they play. If they’re anxious about starting or going back to school, there are excellent books for kids from grades K-12 that tackle the subject beautifully,” said Amazon Books Editor Seira Wilson.
In addition, the Journey into Reading program offers free age-appropriate downloadable activity sheets to use alongside books to help children stay engaged.
Getting the whole family involved
With nice weather, longer days, and no homework, it can be hard to encourage kids to sit down and read. Wilson suggests setting aside time to read as a family, whether that’s nightly or weekly. “Seeing parents and other family members enjoying a book helps kids see reading as an enjoyable activity,” Wilson said.
Irina Bekker, a lead employee at Amazon Books at Waterside Marina del Rey in Los Angeles, said children can rally their entire family to get involved. “Have your parents or siblings act out the characters as you go through the story!”
For beginning readers, these professionals suggest trying books that contain minimal and simple words. They also suggest supporting emerging readers by reading with them or taking turns reading alternating pages.
“For younger kids, I recommend ‘ACTive’ reading. Have a child act out the voices or actions of book characters while the parent narrates. They are able to engage with the story while having fun,” said D’Ann Record, a lead employee at Amazon 4-star Minneapolis in Minnesota.
If traveling is on the agenda, take reading on the road. “Airplanes, camping, if there is going to be some down time, pack a book or three for your child,” said Wilson, the Amazon Books editor. “If you’re taking a driving trip, audiobooks are a personal favorite, and if you let the child or children choose the story you will all listen to, that gives them some ownership over the experience.”
But what about kids who just don’t enjoy reading or who have trouble engaging in a story? Graphic novels can be a good choice because the pictures help readers visualize characters, scenery, and actions.
“If your child is a hesitant reader, show them books that are on the shorter side or illustrated diary-style titles such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” said Wilson. She noted that if a child isn’t into the book they’re reading, it’s OK to set it aside and try something new. She said ask the child what they didn’t like about the book and then go from there to look for an alternative book they will enjoy.
Pets can get involved, too. James Babbin, an employee at the Amazon 4-star store in Glendale, California, said, “My dog Fletcher and I have been able to take part in a program, Reading Isn’t Ruff. It’s a partnership with the LA Public Library and an animal rescue group. The kids literally read to the dogs, who simply enjoy the sounds—and the attention.”