Believe it or not, summer break begins next month and it’s a great time to concentrate on improving kids’ reading skills.

If there’s any one thing parents can do to help kids achieve future academic success, it’s to get them to be better readers and, during the summer months, there’s plenty of time for kids to learn to love reading and have fun at the same time.

The development of good reading skills … especially in early childhood … is the best predictor of future academic and financial success. The earlier kids learn to read, the better. The challenge is, not to teach kids to read, but to create an environment where kids will learn to love reading.

Here are a few statistics from the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy:

  • Children’s academic successes at ages 9 and 10 can be attributed to the amount of talk they hear from birth through age 3. Young children who are exposed to certain early language and literacy experiences also prove to be good readers later in life.
  • Books for kids contain 50% more words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently than regular conversation, TV, or radio.
  • Family members who read to a child at least three times a week are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who are read to less than 3 times a week.
  • Thirty-seven percent of children arrive at kindergarten without the skills necessary for lifetime learning.
  • One in six children who are not reading proficiently in the third grade do not graduate. (The rate is higher in children from low-income families and rural areas.)

Even though developing a love of reading is so important, it seems like some children are reluctant readers practically from birth. How can parents foster this crucial skill in their children, creating lifetime reading enthusiasts?


It’s important to create a positive connection to reading, which is accomplished by allowing kids to read what they enjoy … within reason. If kids want to read comic books, graphic novels, sports stories, or science fiction, as long as parents approve of the content, it’s okay.

The more kids read, the more their reading skills will improve and the more they will want to read; consequently, the first goal is to get them reading. If comic books can get your child enthused about reading, then let them read comic books.


It’s difficult to tell a child reading is important if the adults in the house never read. Parents should regularly turn off the TV, letting children see they have reserved time to read. Kids love to imitate adults, and if they see parents reading, they’ll want to do the same.


Let your child watch their favorite TV show with the sound off and captioning on, making it necessary to read the dialog to know what’s going on. Get the whole family involved, with everyone taking on a different character, using that character’s voice. Be certain to help them through any words they may be stuck on to avoid frustration. Their favorite shows will take on a whole new attraction when presented by your family’s actors’ workshop.


Kids love to laugh, so find books that are funny to read with your child. It’s a good idea to read through the books first so that you know where the funny parts are, since kids’ books are written for kids, and you don’t want to be the one not in on the joke.


Kids may be more comfortable with an iPad in their hands than with a book, so let them read using whatever media they prefer. Just about everything is available as an ebook, often for free. Epic is an iTunes app featuring access to over 20,000 free, high-quality children’s books. There are also many free kids’ books which can be read or downloaded to any computer, phone, or tablet.

Nothing can guarantee your child will be successful academically or in the career they choose, but if they develop a love of reading at an early age, they’ll have a much better chance at accomplishing great things throughout their lives.