Libraries all over the nation conduct summer reading programs, so why shouldn’t we? There is a plethora of quality literature out there and children looking for something to do. All they need is a little encouragement!
Goals: Summer reading allows children to maintain skills and develop a lifelong love for books. Reading also allows students to be engaged in learning, as opposed to being entertained. If your church has a library, it will be well utilized through a Summer Reading Program!
You Choose the Program: Organize the program to be as simple or as involved as you would like. A simple program might include having the students read a minimum of two books a week. They could bring in their books to briefly share with the class or teacher. For every two books, the child would get a ticket for a prize jar. Names would be drawn every Sunday and new prizes would be displayed for the next week.
A more involved program might take place on a different day of the week (either morning or evening depending on staffing.) This program might include dramatic book readings, finger plays and active rhymes for younger children, songs of worship, a brief message, a game, and/or a craft activity to correlate with the selected literature. Children would also need time in the church’s library to select new books for the following week. Tickets in prize jars can also serve as rewards for this program. This option would have to be well advertised so that it’s worth all the effort!
Considerations: Either program should include two age levels: K-3 and 4-6. You could also choose to create a Pre-K program to encourage parents to spend time together reading to their little ones. Before starting, determine the program length. Generally, 4-6 weeks is a good time frame. Make sure to start the program off with a bang to generate enthusiasm!
Reading Lists: It might be helpful to give students ideas of quality literature suggestions. If your church is blessed with a nice library, you can create a reading list based on available books and/or your personal favorites. Family Christian stores also provides lists for both K-3 and 4-6 grades.
The K-3 list can be found here: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/cms_content?page=1163091&sp=86209.
The 4-6 list can be found here: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/cms_content?page=1162351&sp=86209
Incentives: Of course, you’ll have to provide incentives. That’s part of the fun! Incentives can include coupons from local restaurants offering free kids’ meals or ice cream treats. Ask around and take whatever donations are offered! Inquire with amusement parks, local play centers, water parks, gymnastics studios, tae kwon do studios, kids’ clothing stores, bike stores, or other retail establishments.
Save any bigger prizes for the final raffle, but advertise them the entire time. For each book read, the students can receive one ticket to put in the last raffle boxes. There should be one big ticket winner for each age level.
Final Suggestions: If you would like to get your students reading with some fun incentives, give a Summer Reading Program a shot. Have fun creating a name for it like, “Ice Cream for Books” or “God’s Kids Read” or “Book Gig!” Just remember to have fun, create energy, and utilize the Bible. After all, it’s the best book we’ve got!