8 Ways to Keep your Kids Reading Over the Holidays

posted in: 2. Illustrators and Authors | 8

I wrote a number of guest posts this past year. In case you missed them I’ll be sharing some of them this week on the blog. First up is a post I wrote from Tesco Kids Book Club about keeping kids reading during the holidays. Christmas holidays aren’t as long as summer holidays (although I shouldn’t forget that for some of my readers it IS summer right now!), but it’s always good to encourage reading! Here’s the original post (with some updates):

Summer holidays are a time for fun and relaxing, there’s no doubt about it. But how can we help our kids keep reading, and enjoying reading, whilst school’s out? Here’s a menu of tried and tested ideas – why not try one or two and see what works for your family?

  • Take advantage of free books and activities at your local library. All UK libraries are taking part in a free summer reading programme for kids with exciting incentives and events. This summer’s theme is Circus Stars.

  • Let your kids choose their own reading matter. All reading is good so whether in the library or the charity shop with just a couple of quid, let them choose whatever books take their fancy. Don’t forget non-fiction, joke books, cartoons – all count as reading!

  • Spread books around. It’s the holidays so do something different with reading – you could start reading at meal times or bath times, outdoors or under blankets with a torch. Make sure a book is just as easy to find in your home as the tv remote or Wii console.

  • Have a secret stash of books and magazines on hand for the inevitable cry “I’m bored! What can I do?” Activity books and children’s magazines contain a lot of “hidden” reading and can encourage creativity too. I wrote one of my favourite guest posts this year for Wahm-Bam, all about activity book and you can find it here.

  • There’s more to reading than books. Offer your kids an e-book,app or reading online (Oxford Owl and Stories from the Web are both good sources of fun, online stories), ask family and friends to send postcards, or even start writing your own story, leaving your kids an excerpt to find each morning when they wake up (for inspiration you might like or remember our Magic Beans post).

  • Offer a trip to the cinema. Several films based on children’s books are released this summer (including Horrid Henry and Mr Popper’s Penguins), so give the kids a chance to become a film critic. Christmas film releases with books to match include Hugo, a Martin Scorsese film based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. If they read the book treat them to it on the big screen. You could also do the same with a DVD – here’s a list of films based on children’s books.

  • Take a trip to a museum specialising in children’s books or a location that features in a favourite book. Seven Stories, Discover and the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre are all exciting places to visit, whilst Storybook England is a fantastic interactive map featuring locations found in children’s books. I wrote two posts about UK kidlit destinations, and whilst now may not be the time to hit the road to visit these, you can start planning for the warmer weather! Here’s part 1 and part 2.

  • Listen to audiobooks on long journeys. Christmas is a time when many of us travel up and down the country visiting relatives. Often free from your local library, audiobooks offer a shared experience that will make a long journey pass that bit more quickly, and get you all hooked on a great story leaving you wanting to read more! If you want to hear me talking about our love of audiobooks you can listen to this podcast from Raising Playful Tots, where I was interviewed by Melitsa.


  • All of these tips boil down to just 3 key things. If you want to help your children enjoy reading over the summer (or winter!):

  • Make a range of reading material easily accessible.

  • Read together or at the same time, thereby ensuring you create space for reading and lead by example.

  • Make it fun! It is the holidays after all…!
  • If you’re looking for some fun christmassy things to do with books that aren’t reading you might like this, this or (my personal favourite) this!

    8 Responses

    1. Zoe

      Thanks Stacey, I wonder what different tips you would have suggested – I’m sure keeping kids reading over holidays is a question you get asked about a lot.

    2. sandhya

      This is such a lovely, informative and thought-provoking post, Zoe!

      Points 1 & 2 are already in place. My house is overflowing with books, we both (husband and I) are avid readers and I am a staunch believer in reading aloud to A. We read the whole of the Harry Potter series like that, and have now started with the Hobbit. Point 3 is where your posts come in handy, Zoe! We shamelessly use the activities you suggest!

    3. Judy Houser

      Great suggestions, But I am disappointed that you included Mr. Popper’s Penguins as a movie recommendation. The book is so great. The movie barely relates to the book.

      • Zoe

        Hi Judy, I’m certainly no film buff, but I think an interesting conversation can be had about differences between books and their film adaptations – certainly with my eldest we’ve talked about this (tho not in relation to this film), and we’ve also talked about if we were to make a film of a book, what would we include or change. At the moment we’re in the process of adapting a favourite picture book into a little play for christmas and we’ve had to change things as we can include everything given our limited means and budget. It creates an interesting discussion about the key aspects of a plot, or how things can be different but still similar, at least in spirit.

    4. Judy Houser

      Thanks for the response, Zoe. I agree that good conversation can be generated through comparisons. I just hate it, though, when Hollywood takes a great book and makes an inferior film. Many children do not have any experience with the book and are left with ideas about characters and plot that the author never intended.

    5. Zoe

      Oh I agree Judy, it’s such a shame when a great book’s story is mutilated in a film. But I’ve experienced with my own kids them wanting to read a book because they’ve seen a film and then discovered that it was based on a book, even when I thought that film wasn’t amazing (Cloudy with a chance of meatballs is what I’m thinking of in particular).

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