Help your child discover the joys of reading this summer

July 31, 2023 | Nicol

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Back-to-school jitters may be creeping up on kids. The beginning of a new school year is challenging, especially when it comes to learning. Over the summer, many children lose the knowledge they acquired during the previous school year. Educational experts call this trend the summer slide. According to research, kids in grades 3 to 5 lose about 20% of their school year gains in reading. The best way to combat this loss is by reading!

Let's do an exercise

Take a breath. Picture yourself as a child again. Revisit the libraries or bookstores of your youth. Walk the aisles. The sun streams down, illuminating the books. Choose a book – whichever book speaks to you – and crack it open. Maybe the book is dense with text, or perhaps it dances with colourful illustrations. You may find yourself borne between the wings of a dragon, flying high over mountaintops. Or you may find yourself on a great ship, sailing in search of treasure as salty water splashes against your skin. Maybe you're taking in interesting facts and learning the stages of a volcano eruption. The pages may be long or they may be short, but it doesn't matter because, in this moment, you are happy reading.

This feeling of contentment is exactly we want our children to feel when they read or listen to a book. If kids feel the pressure of expectations, such as choosing a certain type of book or being tested on what they read, it can often riddle them with anxiety, discouraging them from reading for pure enjoyment.

The gorilla in the room

A 1999 study on observation asked participants to focus on one aspect of a basketball video, like how often the ball bounced. At the end of the video, they asked participants if they noticed anything unusual. Only 50% saw a person dressed as a gorilla walking across the basketball court. The other 50% were so focused on the task that they missed the gorilla. The phenomenon of missing what’s right in front of us is attributed to "inattentional blindness."

How does this relate to reading? I often hear adults telling kids how to read:

  • Don't get books with too many pictures.
  • Don't choose books that are too silly.
  • Comics don’t count as books.
  • You have to read the entire book.

Sound familiar? Although adults are trying to be helpful, the pressure to follow a task can cause kids to miss out on experiencing the joy of reading. Reading becomes something that limits rather than expands their mind. Using the basketball video experiment as an analogy, we don’t want young readers to miss the gorilla.

Summer provides kids with a unique opportunity to read for fun. It’s the perfect time to help them discover the joy of reading. Even 15 minutes a day will do the trick! The best way to get your child to read is by encouraging them to read what, where and how they like.

To keep kids motivated, we recommend joining the TD Summer Reading Club, the country’s biggest, bilingual summer program for kids of all ages, interests and abilities. To September 2, kids can join the Club in person at their local library or online and then track what they read to earn badges and stickers, complete online activities and access free ebooks.

Not sure where to start? We can help.

What type of reader is your child? 

Help your kids pick books based on how they read.

  • Is your child an efferent reader? Do they read to gather information and gain a deeper understanding of a topic? If yes, they may enjoy almanacs, encyclopedias, history and science books.
  • Is your child an aesthetic reader? Do they read for emotional enjoyment? If yes, they may enjoy adventure, science fiction and fantasy books.

Regardless of reader type, HarperCollins highlights 10 genres to help kids choose books they like. In addition to this list, kids can find their next great read by using our read-alike resource NoveList, visiting TPL Kids or asking our friendly library staff!

Below are some recommendations for each HarperCollins genre to get you started.


For contemporary fiction, try:

Dork Diaries

For historical fiction, try:


The War that Saved my Life 

For mystery, try:


A to Z Animal Mysteries

For fairytales, folktales and fables, try:


Treasury of Magical Tales from Around the World

For fantasy, try:


Wings of Fire

For science fiction, try:


Star Wars: Jedi Academy

For horror, try:

Goosebumps: Creepy Creatures


For biography, try:


The Who Was? History of the World

For history, biology and science, try: 

Smithsonian Timelines of Everything

For self-help, try:

Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

Do you have suggestions for getting kids to discover the joys of reading? Let us know in the comments below.