A Fun Way to Encourage Summer Reading at Home


As teachers, there’s no question that we all look forward to the relief that we feel at the end of the school year. However, there is also the concern that the last day of school might be the last time our students open a book until the following school year. We want our students to continue to grow and succeed!  One of the best ways for students to maintain their literacy skills over the summer is to read consistently.  In this post, I’m going to share a fun way for teachers to encourage summer reading at home.

Why is Summer Reading Important?

Reading over the summer is one of the best ways for students to maintain their literacy skills and prevent the summer slide.  Reading helps our young students continue to improve their communication and vocabulary skills. Readers also develop qualities such as empathy and compassion since books can introduce them to people who are different from themselves.

A Fun Way to Encourage Summer Reading at Home

One of my favorite ways to encourage summer reading at home is to set up an adopt-a-reading-buddy activity.  Students are given a small stuffed animal reading buddy that they can take home with them at the end of the school year.  They are encouraged to read to their new pets every day. It’s as simple as that! 

A bear reading buddy rescue bulletin board and supplies

I have written an entire blog post with details about how you can set up your own reading buddy adoption event at any time of the school year. For this post, I want to focus on the end of the school year.  I am going to share four reasons why reading buddies are a great way to encourage summer reading at home.

1. Make a Commitment

I like to set up a classroom reading buddy program as an animal rescue.  First, students fill out an application to adopt an animal. This is fun writing practice! Then, you can give students instructions for how to care for their reading buddies. You can tell your students that since their pets don’t need actual food or water, the way they care for them is by reading to them. Finally, you can even give students a rescue certificate for their new pets. I also like to send home the adopted pets in small “animal carriers.”

Bear adoption box and paperwork

This shift in mindset makes it feel more like a commitment than a parting gift from their teacher.  (Although, reading buddies do make a great end-of-the-year student gift!) When students feel more invested in their reading buddies, they are more likely to think of them during the summer.

2. Visual Reminder to Read

We all know how much I love a good visual support as a kindergarten teacher, especially when the visual support will encourage summer reading at home!  As adults, we often put something we need to remember where we know we will see it on the way out the door.  A reading buddy can do the same thing for our students!  

A student holds a bear adoption box

You can encourage them to set their reading buddy where they will see it every day, especially if that place is close to where they can choose a book to read. For example, a small reading buddy sitting on a bookshelf or a pile of library books can serve as a visual reminder for a child to pick up a book and read.  

3. On-the-Go Fun

What about when students are traveling during summer break?  A visual reminder doesn’t do much good when it’s left behind! Another great thing about reading buddies is that they are just the right size for packing around!  Kindergarten students just love to take little treasures with them when they are out and about.  Their reading buddies can become a traveling reminder to read!  

A blue storage bin filled with colorful plush bears

4. Comfort

A reading buddy is a great way for students to associate reading with comfort and positive feelings.  Snuggling up with their new friend can help students make positive associations with books.  This is especially helpful for students who might have struggled with reading during the school year! 

Summer break can be a time of trauma and big feelings for some of our students.  In these cases, the reading buddy might serve more as a comfort item than a reminder to read.   This is especially true if your student doesn’t have access to books at home.  You might decide that students can select a couple of books to go with their new pet as part of the adoption process. You could save up books throughout the year from book order credits, donations, thrifting, and more!

How to Use Reading Buddies

If you’d like even more tips for using reading buddies to encourage kindergarteners to read, check out this video!  I share multiple ways that you can set up an adopt-a-reading-buddy event throughout the school year.  Reading buddies don’t just have to be for the end of the year!  In fact, I started using reading buddies as part of our back-to-school process.  Check out this video for more information, including where I find all of the supplies.

Adopt-A-Reading Buddy Printables

I have created a set of printables with everything you need to set up your own adopt-a-reading-buddy rescue activity!  This set has a bear theme, which is perfect for the end of the year when students have camping and outdoor adventures on their minds.  The great thing about the bear theme is that it also works great with Camp Kindergarten at the beginning of the year.  No matter what time of year you decide to use these printables, your students will love this bear rescue activity!  

You can find this set of printables in the Teaching Exceptional Kinders shop or on TPT.

Save This Fun Way to Encourage Summer Reading at Home

If you’d like to come back to these tips and resources later, be sure to save this post! Just add the pin below to your favorite Pinterest board.  You’ll be able to quickly find this post when you’re ready to set up your own fun incentive to encourage summer reading at home.

A fun way to encourage summer reading after kindergarten


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