Summer is the perfect time to sneak in all sorts of learning, especially reading practice. There's no better way to turn those pages than under a tree or on the beach, and kids and parents alike know that reading is one of the things that sets summer apart.

A great way to encourage your child and keep him reading through the summer months is to help set a goal for the number of books he plans to read. Not only is it fun to keep track of reading accomplishments as they happen, it can be a great way to reflect back once the summer is through.

To define a summer reading goal, get out a calendar and count the number of days your child has for summer break. Together, parent and child can determine a reasonable goal based on the number of days, the length of the books your child reads, other activities your child is involved in, etc. Help your child set a plan for reaching the goal such as “I need to read four books every week to meet my goal.” Write the goal down as well as the plan to meet the goal. To motivate your child to reach the goal, keep a visual record of the number of books they read. Children love being able to see their accomplishments! Then celebrate with ice cream or a new book when your child reaches the goal.

Use some of the following ideas to record your child’s reading. Many of these ideas can double as a math activity, too. You've got to love any activity that helps children with reading and math!

1. Book Worm

Create a bookworm bulletin board to show the books your child has read!

  • Cut out circles from colored construction paper.
  • Make a worm face on one of the circles. Then have your child write the title of a book onto a circle when he finishes reading a book.
  • Tape the circles together in a row to create a book worm.
  • Display this on a wall or bulletin board.
  • Count the circles every time a book is added. Ask questions like “How many more books do you need to reach your goal?”

2. Book Garden

Not into having a worm on your wall? How about a flower? This is the same idea as the bookworm, but instead, petals of a flower are used to keep track of the number of books read.

  • Cut petal shapes out of colored construction paper.
  • Have your child write the name of a book on each petal.  
  • Tape the flowers on the wall or bulletin board. Add stems and leaves.  If you have more than one child, you may want to have each child’s flower represented with a different color construction paper.
  • To add math to this activity, have your child place five petals on each flower. Then when you have a few flowers filled, you can have the child count the books they’ve read by fives. “Five, ten, fifteen, and two more is seventeen!”

3. Reading Kite

Encourage your child’s reading scores to soar!

  • Cut diamond shapes out of colored construction paper.
  • Have your little artist decorate the kites using a variety of craft materials. 
  • Add a string for the tail.
  • Have your child write the title of her book on each kite.
  • Hang the kites in a special place.  
  • To add a math dimension to this activity, talk about the shape of a kite and the number of sides a diamond has. Ask your child if she can think of other shapes that have the same number of sides. Introduce the term quadrilateral and talk about some of the characteristics of different quadrilaterals like squares, parallelograms, rhombuses, and rectangles.

4. How Many Books?

  • Trace your child’s right and left hands on paper and cut out.
  • Have your child write the title of each book read on one of the fingers or thumbs. Your child can see at a glance how many books he has read!
  • Create more paper hands as you need them. Ask questions like “You read five books last week and you read two books this week. How many books have you read in the last two weeks?”
  • Toward the end of summer, you may even want to show your child how to use a calculator. This can be a fun way for the child to check his counting and addition.

5. Scrapbook Books

Your older children may enjoy creating a scrapbook page for each book they read to record their summer reading adventures. Purchase a special scrapbook, paper, and some fun scrapbooking supplies, then let your child’s creativity take hold! Spend time at the end of the summer, reminiscing with your child about the books she read. She just may want to keep this project going beyond summer.

This is just a small sample of some of the ways you can make reading count this summer. Adapt these ideas to meet the needs and interests of your child. The main idea is to motivate kids to read, reward their efforts, and help them discover the lifetime adventure that awaits them inside the cover of books!