Want to help your son improve his reading skills over the summer? A good idea, since many children lose ground in reading over the course of the summer and start the new school year with rusty skills which can zap their academic confidence. Here are a few ways to focus on reading this summer:

Public Library Summer Reading Programs: Most public libraries have free summer reading programs for students through middle school, and some have innovative programs for teens as well. Search online for summer reading programs at your local public library.

The Institute of Reading Development: The Institute of Reading Development, a California-based company which helps students of all ages reach their full potential as readers, offers summer reading programs throughout the summer. The fee-based programs start for children as young as 4, and are offered for students in grades 1-12, as well as college students and adults. The summer reading programs are offered through the Institute’s various partners, which include colleges and parks and recreational departments nationwide. For more information go to www.readingprograms.org/summer-reading-programs/.

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program for Kids: The Barnes and Noble 2012 summer reading program “Imagination Destination” gives children in grades 1-6 a free book when they read 8 books over the summer. Here’s how it works: Your child downloads and prints a reading journal from the Barnes and Nobles Summer Reading website, found here, and fills out the student information on the first page of the journal. A parent must sign on this page in order for the child to get a free book. After your child reads a book, he records in his reading journal the title, author, and whether he would recommend the book and why (or why not). After he has read and recorded 8 books, bring the completed and signed reading journal into your local Barnes and Noble book store between May 22, 2012 and September 4, 2012. Present it to an employee and they will let him choose a book from their free book list. Be sure to download the "Fun Activities and Teaching Tips" kit from this summer reading website to help make your son’s summer reading fun.

TD Bank Summer Reading Program: If your son reads 10 books this summer, he can earn $10! TD Bank is offering to deposit $10 into a new or existing TD Young Saver account for children 18 and under who read 10 books this summer. They must download and print the Summer Reading Form which can be found on their summer reading website, list the books they’ve read, and take the form to the nearest TD Bank from now until September 29th, 2012 to be eligible for the $10 deposit. Note that your son will have to open a Young Saver account or be prepared to open one in order to receive the $10. If your son does not have a Young Saver Account bring an I.D. for him when you accompany him to the bank. The TD Bank Summer Reading website also offers tips to make summer reading more enjoyable, and
a link to games (some goofy, some helpful), which provide basic financial information for children.

Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge: If your son (aged 10 and under) reads all of the books on the Pottery Barn Early Readers list or their Caldecott Medal and Honor Books List between now and 8/24/12, tracks their progress and downloads a certificate of completion, he can visit a Pottery Barn Kids store and receive a free book, and also be eligible to win a backpack full of books. Both book lists and more details are on their summer reading challenge page, found here.

Hope these programs inspire you to encourage your son’s summer reading. Tell us what you are doing this summer to get him reading!