If your child is in primary or junior school chances are they’ve been set some form of reading challenge.  While schools try hard to sell the reading challenge as fun and different, let’s be honest, most children just want to spend time with their friends playing in the garden or on their electronic devices. So, how can you incorporate a little bit of reading into the summer holidays without them even noticing or listening to them moan ‘Urghh, not school work’. Here are some ideas

The photo challenge

Kids love cameras and taking photos, but now with the digital age the joy of having a printed photo seems lost with many kids not even knowing what a film looks like and thinking all images belong on a camera or a tablet.  However, Polaroid and FujiFilm do still make instant photo cameras, these days they’re compact, in bright colours and the photos are a lot better quality. There’s countless events for kids up and down the country that feature top storybook characters from The Gruffalo to Thomas the Tank Engine.  Get the kids to take pictures of their day and write their own version of their favourite character story using their own photos or drawings they’ve done on the day. Give them a character book to read first for inspiration then let their imaginations run free and create their very own book. If you can’t get an instant camera there are great picture book apps that let you use your smartphone camera to load images into free photobooks, ready to edit.  Use the right hand side for an image and leave the left-hand side free for them to write their story. An alternative is to give your child a simple blank notebook and a packet of felt tips so they can practice their drawing, observation and writing skills all in one.

Location, location, location

Change things up.  If children are used to doing their class reading in a certain place or at a certain time, mix it up.  Create a secret den under the dining room table while they’re asleep for them to find in the morning. Fill it with pillows, blankets and hidden snacks as well as a box of new books you’ve picked up from a charity shop or the library. They’ll have their very own secret hideaway to play and enjoy reading in. Books can be expensive, but charity shops do great deals and, of course, you can borrow books from the library free.  There’s also a number of school book sites that offer great deals on series collections and give money back to your school. Another option is to create a swap shop amongst other parents and trade books throughout the summer at playdates.

Get those ears working!

As any parent will tell you, their child’s listening skills could probably do with improvement.  If getting them to sit down and read a book is a challenge, getting them to listen to one can be less hassle. From Disney books to adventures or classics, almost all children’s books now come in an audiobook version.  Many are on CD or can be downloaded from a digital app store. These are great for keeping them entertained on long car journeys, helping them to go off to sleep or even just as background noise while you make the dinner.  Some even come with the matching book allowing your child to read along with the CD.  Keep a stack in their room next to the CD player or download a selection onto their tablet. Whatever way you choose, reading is an essential skill and one that, if nurtured throughout the summer, will help the transition into their next year without having to play catch up in the first weeks of term. For more great reading ideas and the Summer Reading Challenge visit the Summer Reading Challenge site.