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Connection Corner

3 simple ways to encourage reading this summer

group of kids laying the grass reading a book

Summer is a great time for heading to the pool, exploring outdoors, and hanging out with friends. Summer is also a great time to encourage a love of reading! Additionally, research studies show that access to books can help prevent a decrease in reading skills over the summer (Journal of Education, 2012). Here are 3 simple ways to incorporate more reading at home.

Create fun spaces for reading time.

My kids will find any reason to build a fort in the living room and making a reading tent is one of their favorites. My daughter loves to fill the space with comfy pillows, blankets, and sparkly lights and then read with all her favorite stuffed animals. If outdoors is more your style, putting up a hammock in a cool, shady spot can be a great reading space.

Check out local reading programs and resources.

Many kids like to participate in challenges that encourage them to do more reading. Here are a few places to check out some challenges:

Most local libraries have some type of reading program with incentives for meeting certain goals.

Barnes and Noble also has a summer reading program where kids can earn a free book. Download the summer reading journal and get started!

For families who like to expand the learning around the books they read, the Nebraska 4-H STEM Reading Connections Program may be just the thing to spark their interest. You can download STEM activities related to several books.

Check out University of Illinois Extension’s  Storybook Engineering videos on our STEAM video playlist that encourage learning about simple machines, while incorporating some favorite children’s stories like The Gingerbread Bread Man, Rapunzel and more.

Read together as a family!

One of my favorite things to do together as a family is to read a book together. When my kids were younger, we started with picture books and other books we could finish in one sitting. As they have gotten older, we have read longer chapter books and we take turns on who reads and who picks the books. Reading together not only provides a way to spend time together, but also provides great material for future conversations about characters in the story, themes and values the story was highlighting and funny or memorable situations that happened during your reading times. The American Library Association has a great summer reading list of book for all ages.


Judy Schmidt provides leadership to 4-H metro programming in Peoria County. Schmidt joined Extension in 2001, working as a Youth Development Educator at the East Peoria Center and joined the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell unit in 2011. Her work focuses on 4-H youth development programming in the local metropolitan area, specifically leading positive youth development initiatives for after-school programs, community groups, 4-H clubs and other youth-serving organizations. Her areas of expertise include positive youth development principles, youth leadership, and work with teens as teachers.

Schmidt attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her bachelor's degree in psychology and also for her master's degrees in Social Work and Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a certified facilitator of the Matrixx System/Real Colors program by the National Curriculum and Training Institute.


Connection Corner:  is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.