The Mid-South's Premier Parenting Resource

kids reading together
This Summer, Let’s Get Reading!

It is now May. We all know what that means as a mom… all the things are coming! Graduations, recitals, sports tournaments and banquets, field trips, the list goes on and on. And what is the reward for us at the other side of May-cember? SUMMER! Camps, vacations, fun outings, and let's not forget…summer reading! 

Full disclosure – as a child summer reading was not my favorite thing to do. However, as a parent, I love to see the endless reading opportunities that children have now in the summer. Maybe your school assigns specific books for your children, maybe they can pick a few from an extensive list provided by your school, or maybe your school does not provide a structured list. Any way you slice it, all schools want our kids reading over the summer! 

Summer Slide

If you are not familiar with the summer slide, let me catch you up to speed. According to Scholastic, the phenomena of the summer slide came to light in 1996. At this time, a study revealed that, “kids lose significant knowledge in reading and math over summer break, which tends to have a snowball effect as they experience subsequent skill loss each year.” Various data shows that kids can lose anywhere from 20-47% of their school year gains in reading, and around 27% of their gains in math. While younger and lower socioeconomic students are more at risk, all kids are affected by the summer slide.

a family reading together

How We Can Help!

Whatever form of summer reading list you may have, there are so many ways to make it fun and exciting this summer! Here are some of my family’s favorites: 

Local Libraries 

We use our neighborhood library all year – my most recent slip showing when our books were due said we have saved over $1,700 in 2023 (by mid-April alone)! If your kids love to read like mine, the library will be your saving grace this summer: free books and air conditioning! I can assure you that my crew and I will be checking out Cossitt Library in downtown Memphis. The Cossitt branch was the first public library in our city, and has been closed for renovations since 2018. Many of the Memphis area libraries will have summer reading programs launching as summer begins. Memphis Public Library, Germantown Community Library, Collierville Burch Library, Bartlett Library, and the Arlington Library offer these to incentivize kids to read all summer long. Many of these offer online tracking, and then when you have met a goal, your child will receive various prizes at that point.  (Please note, at the time of publishing, none of the mentioned libraries had posted their 2023 summer reading programs.) 

The Best Little Bookstore in our own Backyard…NOVEL!

It is no secret that Novel (located in Laurelwood Shopping Center) is a true GEM in our city! It is my go-to for birthday gifts, books, author meetings, yummy ladies' lunches, and more! But did you know they can give your reader their first summer job? Junior Booksellers (rising Kindergarten-6th) and Bookseller Interns (rising 7th-12th) is a low-commitment, summer-long program hosted by Novel bookstore that is designed to give kids and teens a taste of what it's like to be a booksellers. You read that right: kids get to review books they have read and place them on the shelves around the store, or even share their favorite books with shoppers needing help! If that does not work for your schedule, or your child’s interests, definitely make sure and stop by Novel and grab a packet with a book bingo, bookmark, and some crossword puzzles!  Make sure and check their events calendar and social media channels for story times and events all summer long!

If you are looking for some new titles to add to your home library and summer rotation, check out our suggestions of newly published picture books! Let’s be real, everyone – at any age, loves a picture book!

dad reading to his kids

Story Times

Looking for a fun INDOOR activity that involves reading and literacy? Many libraries and bookstores (i.e. NOVEL!)  will also offer story time all summer long! Some may be for all ages, others may break them down by infants, toddlers, early childhood age, lower elementary, etc. In addition to story times, make sure and check your neighborhood library calendar for all kinds of fun programming by age and interest. Our library offers everything from spy school, to chess club, various crafts, and the very popular ukulele clinic!  If you are currently a library story time regular, you will definitely want to check for any time changes that the summer schedule may bring!

Read in fun places 

Are you traveling this summer? Do you have any fun local staycation activities planned? If so, have your kids read about it before you head to those spots! Better yet, take the books WITH you and take photos of your children reading their books “on location!” Going to the beach? Find some books about marine animals! Is the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama on your itinerary for the summer? Read (and bring along) some books about outer space and document your kids reading about space while experiencing space hands on!

kids reading books for Black History Month

Book Games 

Looking for a fun way to motivate your kids to read over the summer? Even those who love to read (without being asked), may need an extra nudge over the summer!  Here are some fun ideas you can use at home:

  • Book Bingo: Stop by Novel and grab a book bingo board and challenge your readers to 5 in a row, or even full board! 
  • Book Caterpillar: Cut out circles and take one to make it into a caterpillar face. Put it somewhere visible in your house. Each time a book is completed, write it on a circle and attach it to the caterpillar’s body.
  • Book Challenge: Challenge your child to read a certain amount of books over the course of the summer. Each time they finish a book, you could write the title on a sticky note and make a “tower,” adding a new sticky note to the top with each book finished.  This could also be done with dots (stickers, dot marker) on a piece of paper with each book finished. Looking for a way to differentiate? Instead of a number of books, challenge by minutes! This can be differentiated for whatever works best for your kids!

“Reading is a passport to countless adventures,” (Mary Pope Osborne), and now your tank is filled with many ways to take your children on wonderful adventures this summer through books!


More Great Articles

{MMB Thankful Series} :: When Turning Out the Lights Isn’t Enough
Throughout the month of November and in preparation for Thanksgiving, we are sharing the things that we are thankful for as mothers. We're calling this our "Thankful Series." Our contributor Amanda Parks is mother to 9-month-old Madison, and has several things she just couldn't live without as a first-time mom. As a new mother, I'm […]
It’s Time :: Moms, Let’s Do Better
I have a serious question. (This rarely happens. *wink*) When did it become okay to be late? Maybe I’m old-school or am just imagining it (I’m not.), but it seems these days it’s becoming more and more typical for people to casually stroll into meetings 10-15 minutes late, blow off dinner plans for an hour […]
Veterans Day and Our Kids
My first memories of celebrating Veterans Day are from elementary school. In my tiny hometown of Bruceton, TN, we had an awesome celebration each year to honor veterans in the area. Since our school had kindergarten through 12th grade in the same building, the entire school attended the program. I have such fond memories of the Veterans of […]


Memphis Moms is the Mid-South's premier parenting resource.

Encouraging + Equipping + Empowering moms

We strive to build community by connecting area families to relevant resources, local businesses, digital guides, can’t-miss happenings, and most of all — each other!