Skip to main content

Hey, Nashville Parents: Your Kids Can Have a Blast During the Summer Reading Challenge

June 10, 2021

And They Don’t Even Have to Pick Up a Book

If you’re a parent/caregiver to school-aged kids, summer might be a bittersweet time for you.

On the one hand, it’s a chance to spend more time with your kiddos, go on a vacation, and enjoy the beautiful weather. On the other, no school means routines are thrown into disarray, you have to arrange for someone to watch your kids while you’re at work, and the threat of boredom is ever-present.

Trust us: we feel you. At Nashville Public Library (NPL), many of us are working parents, too. We deal with many of the same challenges you do, and we feel many of the same joys and pressures of parenthood.

That’s why we can’t recommend the Summer Reading Challenge enough. With free prizes to be earned, a chance to keep up the learning strides kids make during school, and fun activities to keep kids engaged all summer, it’s a godsend to parents and caregivers everywhere. 

There are numerous ways to get your kids excited about participating, and we’ll discuss just a few of them, as well as some pro tips to help you get started, below.

Spoiler: Some of them don’t involve books at all!

Reading for Kids Who Hate Reading

If we want to ensure that all kids are reading-ready for school and life, then we need to begin by acknowledging a hard truth: there are a lot of kids out there who don’t like to read.

According to Scholastic’s “Kids & Family Reading Report (7th Ed.),” just 58% of children surveyed said they love or like reading books a lot in 2018. That’s down from 60% in 2010. An even more concerning result is that by the time they reach 9 years of age, only 35% of kids read for fun, five to seven days per week, compared to 57% of 8-year-olds.

So, the challenge for parents, caregivers, teachers, librarians, and everyone else who cares about children is this: how can we foster literacy in kids who hate reading?

Good news: we’ve got plenty of options.

You could, for example:

  • Encourage your kids to act out or tell their own stories, campfire style
  • Create your own games, while writing out your own rules, for your family to play
  • Have kids write about their day, a poem, or anything they like writing about
  • Sing songs together, whether they be songs you hear on TV shows, on your favorite streaming channels, from school, or even ones you make up on your own

Notice anything? None of these ideas involve books at all! But they do involve words and using them to create context. 

“It’s important that parents and caregivers know that literacy isn’t about just sitting and reading,” said Ashley Tyler-Walker, a Children’s Librarian at NPL’s Edmondson Pike location. “Literacy is about learning to use words to create context and understand the world around us. You don’t have to just use books to do that.”

Let Them Choose Their Own Reading Adventure

Even if your child is inclined to read, nothing turns a reading enthusiast into a book-hater quicker than being forced to read things they don’t want to. It’s key that you allow kids to choose the books that are interesting to them.

How do you do that? There are a couple of approaches you can take.

The first one we recommend is tying what you read to one of the most beloved, oft-used words in the history of children’s vocabulary: “why?” As a parent/caregiver, that word may drive you up the wall with how often you hear it, but it’s the perfect excuse to read books that address those questions (and save you from those awkward, “How on earth do I answer that?” responses).

Another option is to find books that are all about the things you know your kids love. One example is gaming — which more and more kids are getting into. From Mario to Fortnite to Minecraft, there are a lot of lil’ gamers out there. And guess what? There are lots of books about those same games!

And don’t discount comic books, graphic novels, and manga! They’re more popular than ever with kids, and reading them counts just as much as anything William Shakespeare wrote.

If you’re not sure what books might match your child’s interests, or don’t know exactly how to broach the subject with them, bring them to NPL! Our librarians are more than happy to help you explore titles for your kids to choose from.

Make NPL Your Summer Reading Challenge HQ

So, this might seem a little obvious since we’re the ones organizing and hosting the Summer Reading Challenge, but just so you know: we provide a lot of great resources you and your family can use to rack up your points for the Challenge. And we don’t just mean books!

  • From story times to special guest performers to shows all about music, we’ve got plenty of special events centered around our theme of “Press Play” that your kiddos will love
  • We’ve got tons of eBooks, eAudiobooks, digital comics and manga, and much more in our catalog that can read them anywhere, anytime, so long as you have an e-reader, phone, or computer, or tablet
  • Beyond books, we’ve got a lot of great digital resources that not only encourage reading, but make it fun, including two of our favorites, BookFlix and ReadyRosie, just waiting for you on our website.

In case you didn’t know: we don’t charge overdue fees. And those eMedia listed above? They check themselves back in at the end of your lending period, so you never have to worry about missing your return date.

The best part about all of these resources? You can use them without ever setting foot outside your door. Many of them don’t even require a library card to access, but for those that do, your library card comes at no cost if you’re a resident of Davidson County.

Don’t Sweat the Details – Just Have Fun!

Anytime you hear words like “challenge” or “contest,” you or your kids might feel like you have to adhere to strict rules and guidelines to participate, and carve out special time each day to make it work.

Take it from us: that’s not what the Summer Reading Challenge is about.

If you’re a busy, always-on-the-go family, don’t think that you don’t have time to participate in the Challenge. Listen to an audiobook or sing-along playlist while you take your kids to school; let them follow along with the recipe while you cook dinner; have them read the nutritional labels and brand names while you grocery shop. There are lots of opportunities to read during your day without going out of your way.

And when it comes to things like logging your minutes or keeping track of how long you’re reading, don’t stress over it. If your kids read for roughly 9.5 minutes, go ahead and say 10. Don’t have time to record your time as soon as you’re finished, or even that day? No problem – do it at the end of the week, or whenever’s most convenient for you.

And maybe you’re feeling a little intimidated by the 600-minute goal to complete the challenge. Please, don’t be. It might seem big, but think about it like this: if your child reads every day from now until August 21, you’d only have to log roughly 17 minutes per day and they complete the Challenge (and you can log any minutes you’ve read since May 3)!

This is very much your Challenge, so sign up online, or get a paper reading log, and start approaching the Challenge the way that works best for you and your family, today!

One parting note: be sure to give you and your kiddos points for reading through this post, and thanks for sticking with us to the end!

Wizard avatar


Ed's a proud member of NPL's Marketing and Communications team. Some of his favorite books include Dracula, Once an EagleNeuromancerStarship TroopersThe Black CompanyBerserkBlade of the ImmortalBlame! and Vampire Hunter D. When not at the Library, you'll find him spending time with his wife and son, doing interval training, reading, or waiting for the next FromSoftware game.