Free Summer Reading Bingo (Encourage Your Child to Read More)

Summer reading helps develop strong readers. Here are several tips and a free summer reading bingo to encourage your child to read.

With COVID-19 and distance learning, a lot of parents are understandably worried about their children’s academic skills.  The best news is the one activity that’s most helpful to prevent the loss of more skills is to just read.

It is really important to keep your children reading over the summer. Good readers read more often than poor readers because it’s easier for them. But how do we get better at any skill? With practice, of course!

But you’re already exhausted from all the nagging and negotiating during the pandemic.  So you’ll want to figure out fun and easy ways to get your kids to read more this summer.

So what is a parent to do? The fact remains that the more your children read this summer, they better readers they will become.

They will either retain what they’ve learned in school or their reading will improve. Fortunately, there a lots of simple things you can do to encourage your child to read more this summer.

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How do I motivate my child to read?

There are seven tips you can use to motivate your child to read more during the summer.

Tip 1: Make reading fun

Let reading be fun this summer. Serve snack along with stories or set up a fort so your children can have books and blankets.

Buy a pop-up tent that is dedicated as the reading room or one of those cardboard castles or spaceships as a private reading oasis.  Let your child make a fort with blankets over the dining room table and read under there.

Making reading seem like a chore (“write two sentences about this story on this reading log”) is a sure-fire way to keep children from reading more. It’s totally unnecessary if your goals is to get your child to read more.

Tip 2: Offer a wide variety of books

Try to give choices for many different types of books. This increases your odds on finding a book that hooks your child.

Jim Trelease is the author of the Read Aloud Handbook and an expert in how parents can foster literacy in their children.

According to his research, many lifelong readers find a “home run book… that inspires them to keep reading” (5th edition, p. 137). My home run books were the Little House on the Prairie books and Baby Sitter’s Club series.

The book How to Get Your Child to Love Reading is a 500-page resource for different types, themes, and genres of books that certainly will engage your child. While your local librarian will also have tons of suggestions for you if you ask, this books is a great reference if you want to DIY expand your child’s reading options.

Tip 3: Turn off the screens

Research has shown that children who view more than 10 hours a week of television have lower reading scores than children who watch less than 10 hours (Read Aloud Handbook, 5th edition, p. 197). Thus, there’s a compelling reason to limit screen time besides the risks of childhood obesity.

Also, if you want your kids to read more this summer, there simply needs to be ample time. So turn off the screens so your children get bored.

printable summer routine to help chlidren read

This daily routine printable is available in the Summer Printable Pack

Tip 4: Schedule time to read

To encourage your child to read more, schedule it so it is expected.  Use a flexible daily schedule so your children know that reading time is just part of the routine.

Even non-reader toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners can “read” by looking at the books.  Your older children can read whatever they want during this time (as long as it’s appropriate and fits your values, of course).

We have Learning Time as a daily block in our schedule.  We mostly play Addition Math Facts board games and do play-doh activities to build fine motor strength, but reading is a part of this time, too.

If your child is resistant, make reading time super short at the beginning (like 3-5 minutes) and gradually increase the time.

Tip 5: Have books everywhere

You know the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind?”

It’s true with books, too. If your children only keep their books in their bedroom, that limits access and opportunity.

So make sure you have books all over so your children can read: clear a shelf in the living room, have a basket near the kitchen table, leave some books in the pockets of your car seats.

I model this for my children, too. If my phone is available, I’ll scroll unnecessarily through Instagram.

If I have a novel downstairs in the family room, I’m more likely to pick it up when I need to find some fun in my day.

Tip 6: Read aloud to your children

By reading aloud to your child, you have the opportunity to serve as a reading role model for your child.

Your vocabulary and reading skill exceeds your child’s so you’re able to expose your child to books and words that they can’t yet manage independently.

Listening to stories is also pleasurable, and the more your child enjoys it, the more they will want to read themselves.


Tip 7: Listen to audiobooks to encourage your child to read

Listen to audiobooks on a road trip on Audible.  You can get a 30 day free trial right now!

Or go old school and get a CD player and books on CD.  We’ve had the CD player pictured for FIVE years so I totally recommend it.

We can request books with CDs from the library and my children will listen to the books independently.  This grows their vocabulary and enjoyment at the same time.

There are tons of Disney read-along books and CDs that are affordable.  This is nostalgic for me because I had these on records as a child.

Is it okay for my kid to just read series?

Parents would ask me about this all the time when I taught second grade. “Johnny only wants to read Magic Treehouse books?  What can I do?”

Getting hooked on a series is actually a fantastic milestone for independent reading.

The best way to get children to become better readers is to get them to practice. How do we get them to practice? Get them hooked!

Think about what you like to read when you’re on a vacation? Are you digging into War and Peace or are you reading a best-seller beach read?

There is similar research with comics. If your child loves comics, embrace it.

It is often to a gateway for children into a lifelong passion for reading.  So if your kid only wants to read Captain Underpants, do not despair.

Use Reading Incentives to Get Your Kids to Read More

The public library summer reading program is a great way to encourage your child to read.

Our library offers tickets to the local rec center swimming pool and a free book for home as the awards for completing the challenge. The swimming ticket is a big motivator for my children and I leverage it as much as I can.

The printable Summer Reading Bingo is another great reading incentive.

Maybe when your children all get 5 in a row, you’ll get ice cream as a family.  My daughter tried to negotiate for new toy and I counter-offered a new book.  She agreed!

Free Printable Summer Reading Bingo

Print off either the full color Summer Reading Bingo or the black and white version. Then place it on your fridge or on a clipboard next to wherever your child reads.

Decide if you expect your child to get five in row like traditional bingo, or if you’d like to go for total blackout!  Make sure that expectation is clear for your child.

This bingo includes different types of books like read a joke book or read non-fiction book. It includes different types of print like read a magazine or read a cereal box.

The Summer Reading Bingo features different places like read in bed and read at the playground. I tried to choose places that work with social distancing.

It also has different people like read to a grandparent or parent or read to a friend or sibling.  You can totally use FaceTime or Zoom for reading aloud!


Make reading fun this summer.  Everyone has a lot on their mind and you don’t need any more stress.

Get your free Summer Reading Bingo printable here, find some new and favorite books, and enjoy some relaxing reading.

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