📚 Our Ultimate Summer Read-Aloud Challenge! 🦉

Welcome to our new Summer Series for 2021! In case you missed our intro post outlining all our free resources and summer itinerary coming up these next few weeks, here it is!

🌻What in the world should I do with my kids this summer?🦋

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~Our Ultimate Summer Read-Aloud Challenge~

Changing the world . . .
one page,
one story,
one child at a time!

About this challenge:

We’re taking “Summer Reading” not only to a whole new level, but bringing it into a whole new light as well. Traditional summer reading programs are basically about logging minutes and hours. You know . . . quantity. Our “Ultimate Summer Read-Aloud Challenge” on the other hand is all about quality. Quality books. Quality time. Quality discussion. Also, it’s about LOVE. Love for what we’re reading, love for who we’re sharing it with, and love for new ideas and concepts revealed along the way.

TARGET SUMMER GOALS MET (see our complete goal descriptions here):

❤️ = inspire a true love for learning

✔️ = catch my child up / advance my child academically

🧠 = keep my child engaged and actively learning

😊 = have fun, de-stress, and bond as a family

How much time will this challenge require?

*Flexible* about 1 hour per day (for kids 5+ who love reading) or about 1/2 hour per day and working up (for kids under 5, or for kids who are reluctant readers)

Our family is doing three roughly twenty-minute windows of read-aloud five to six days a week for our first grader, and continuing to read as much “on-demand” as we can to our toddler.


PLEASE NOTE: you may also choose to include “Read-To-Me” in one of the windows below (in which the child reads aloud to you just at or slightly above their reading level) as well as add a block of “Silent-Sustained-Reading” or “Free-Reading” for the child to do independently (although reading alongside a reading parent = bonus points).

What if I don’t have an hour a day to read aloud to my child?

Don’t stress. If you don’t have an hour a day, devoting half or a third the amount of time is far better than devoting none at all! You can pick and choose just one or two of the three reading blocks outlined in this post. Alternatively, you can devote more time certain days, and less time others. It does not have to be an exact amount of time each day.

If I have more than one child, which should I read aloud to?

Well . . . this depends on which child you love more. Just kidding 😆 ! Ok, serious answer now. A younger child will absorb by osmosis a certain amount of what you read aloud to an older sibling. Conversely, an older child will sometimes tune in for old favorites that you are reading to a younger sibling. So, joint reading can work ok *some* of the time. This is a good last resort when you only have time to read ONE BOOK, which is a reality we all face from time to time! However, it is very important that each child is read aloud something chosen specifically for just him/her ideally each and every week. Obviously the more kids you have or the more demanding your work schedule, the harder this will be.

Here are some ideas to tackle reading individually to each child:

  • Team Up! One parent takes one kid, one parent takes the other, repeat as needed.
  • Enlist Grandma or Great Aunt Sue! A Facetime read-aloud is better than none.
  • Make the nanny work for it! Part of my job when I was a nanny was to read, read, read!
  • Schedule each child for a different window you have each day.
  • Opt to listen to an audiobook with an older child while making dinner or in the car.

What if my child is a reluctant reader?

First, know that you are not alone. There are so many different reasons that kids are reluctant to read, but it all basically boils down to one main issue: for whatever reason, your child simply hasn’t fallen in love with it yet. Did you hear that last word? YET. Don’t throw your hands up and declare that your child is “just not a reader.” There is still time! How do I know? Because I myself didn’t learn to really like reading until my mid teen years, and I didn’t learn to love it until adulthood . . . just about six years ago in fact. And if you know anything about me now, you know I’m a major book lover! So don’t give up. That’s the first and most important thing.

Secondly, if your child is a reluctant reader, you will need to approach this challenge much differently than outlined below. Your goal should NOT be to tackle our three reading blocks each day. Rather, your goal should be to help your child fall head over heels in love with books and stories of all kinds! To tackle this tricky topic, I have created an entirely separate post coming to you later this week! 🙂

Stay tuned for: 21 Ways to Help Your Child Fall In Love with Reading this Summer!

Let’s get started!

Reading Window #1: “SALTY STORIES”

20 minutes of character-building, wisdom-giving, moral-strengthening literature!

*PLEASE NOTE: if your child has not fallen in love with reading yet, this block may pose a challenge. Be careful to select only books of interest to your child and above all do not force it! If your child resists this category of books, simply indulge them in reading whatever titles do interest them. As your child’s love for reading grows, you can gradually work to include this category of reading.

What is “Salt-of-the-Earth Storytime”?

Our reading block of “Salty Stories(as I affectionately call them) is a very intentional reading window. It’s a time entirely devoted to literature that develops our children at an even deeper and richer level than general reading can. It’s about choosing life-giving texts that will nourish our minds, weed our hearts, and water our souls.

This reading block is so incredibly crucial to the holistic development of our children, that I have written an entire post about it here. In this post I outline every single thing you need to adopt a life-changing “Salty-Stories” reading block with your children.

What sort of texts qualify as “Salty Stories”?

Our “Salty-Stories” Book Shelf

In my post mentioned above (Salt-of-the-Earth-Storytime), I have included a giant list of “Life-Giving Literature” to grow our children in sound wisdom and strong morals! I’ve even included categories, descriptions, and tons of peek-inside photos. Hey . . . we read with our eyes first, right?

What time of day should I schedule “Salt-of-the-Earth-Storytime”?

While any time of day is a good time of day to tackle some character-building, my favorite time of day for “Salty Stories” is first thing in the morning. I’m talking before breakfast. Grab your kids, hold them close, and devote yourself entirely to feeding their minds, hearts, and souls even before pouring that bowl of breakfast cereal.

*Tackling this reading block first thing each morning communicates the following to our children:

  1. THIS is the most important thing we have to do today.
  2. These words, this story, this truth is a DEVOTION for our day ahead.
  3. I would rather COZY UP and read with you than do anything else!

Reading Window #2: “WORLD-WISE BOOKSHELF”

20 minutes of Science or Historical cross-curricular texts

*PLEASE NOTE: if your child has not fallen in love with reading yet, don’t start with anything too dense . . . like autobiographies! Choose only those books that appeal to your child’s current interests.

What is the “World-Wise Bookshelf”?

Kick the text books goodbye! “World-Wise” books are better in every way. They are full-color feasts for the eyes for one thing. So unlike most textbooks with those uninspiring, grainy, thumbnail images. For another thing, “World-Wise” books focus on, and more thoroughly and beautifully explore a single aspect of science or time in history. Thirdly, this reading window is like sneaky summer school. Your kids will be enrolled in twenty minutes a day of history and science class all summer long and have absolutely no idea! Plus, it will be anything but boring! Rather, it should be a bold, beautiful, awe-inspiring journey! You will feel like you are exploring the wonders of creation and the mysteries of history with your child, all from the comfort of a cozy reading nook.

In short, your kids will love you for making this change!

What sort of texts belong on a “World-Wise Bookshelf”?

First of all, NOT boring ones! Autobiographies are great and all, but work up to those, ok? Start with your child’s specific interests. Bugs? Ocean life? Dinosaurs? Pick out books at your local library, or on thriftbooks (my fave!) that reflect your child’s current passions at their age level. And pick ones with lots of gorgeous pictures or illustrations, whatever your child’s age! We don’t become less visual as we age, so why should our reading material?

Let it Grow! Earth-Day Read-Alouds

Here are some personal recommendations to get you started:

  • The Dianna Hutts Aston & Sylvia Long Collection! Art and Science in one gorgeous set (A Butterfly is Patient, An Egg is Quiet, A Nest is Noisy, A Rock is Lively, A Beetle is Shy)
  • National Geographic’s Ultimate Bug-opedia, Ultimate Ocean-opedia, and Ultimate Dinopedia! (These books eat text books for breakfast! Just sayin’)
  • Brian Floca’s books: Locomotive, Moonshot, and Lightship
  • Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski
  • Also refer to my previous post: LET IT GROW! ~Earth Day Read-Alouds~

What time of day should I schedule “World-Wise” reads?

Anytime is a lovely time to read about the wonders of creation and the mysteries of history, but we especially love reading these texts on a sunny afternoon outside where we can feel doubly in tune with nature and the greater world all under one big sky.

How to bring “World-Wise” books to life with optional hands-on application activities:

So this is definitely above the recommended 1/2 hr to 1 hr of reading time each day, so feel free to pass it by if you simply don’t have the time this summer. But if you DO have the time, reading-inspired activities offer an incredibly powerful way to connect a child to learning! It’s referred to as “Literature-Based Learning” and is a cornerstone of the Charlotte Mason method, in case you didn’t already know 😉 . If you are looking to cultivate a true love for learning, this is a really great way to do it!

Look for activities that pop out at you when you are reading with your child!

Here are some examples:

  • Bird Book . . . bird watching/sketching!
  • Bug Book . . . bug hunt!
  • Dinosaur Book . . . clay dinosaur kit, or dino egg kit!
  • Parts of a flower book . . . flower dissection!
  • Ocean Book . . . trip to the tide pools or aquarium!
  • Gardening Book . . . planting seeds and pulling weeds!
  • Historical books . . . field trips to museums, memorials, + other historical sites!

Reading Window #3: STORY POWER!

20 magical minutes in the enchanting world of fiction

*PLEASE NOTE: if your child has not fallen in love with reading yet, don’t impose on them any stories/novels that don’t immediately spark their enthusiasm. Once they have developed a strong love for reading, then you can come back to that stack of classics that they may have turned their noses up at.

What is “Story Power”?

In a nutshell: it’s the impression fiction leaves on our entire beings, and the influence it can have on our lives. Historical, realistic, fantastical . . . fiction is the world of stories! For small children, it’s all those beloved bedtime books. For a young child, it’s the world of picture books. For elementary children, it’s those favorite chapter books and series books. For older kids and teens, it’s novels, sagas, and trilogies.

Powerful stories possess the inexplicable power to take us far away. Those characters that become our best friends . . . those events that feel so real we almost believe they are happening to us . . . those messages that bury themselves deep in our hearts . . . stories are powerful! It’s no wonder that the humble “story” is a favorite of humanity throughout the ages. And it just so happens to be the best format of the written word for inspiring in a child a deep LOVE FOR READING.

What sort of storybooks belong in this reading block?

This depends on three things:

  1. The age of your child
  2. What your child gravitates to / is interested in
  3. What your child’s read-aloud attention span is

*For young children, read aloud any picture books/fairytales that your child loves while trying to incorporate as many realistic ones as possible (lifelike illustrations and believable plots).

Our Favorite Read-Alouds by age group!

*For elementary kids, read aloud plenty of upper level picture books/fairy tales as well as chapter books that hold their interest and attention.

*For older kids/teens, read aloud or listen to audiobooks that hold their interest, offering advanced picture books even just for their own private reading. (A teenager probably won’t let you read aloud a picture book 😆 !)

Need help choosing stories? Check out our family’s favorite read-alouds for all ages here: Book It!

What time of day should I schedule our stories block?

Afternoon, evening, and bedtime are my favorite times for a read-aloud story.

Also, consider these ideas for squeezing in bonus story-time:

  • audiobooks at nap/rest time, while doing arts/crafts/chores/cooking, while in the car, or at bedtime for a child who struggles to fall asleep
  • read-aloud books in “limbo” windows such as a traffic jam, waiting room, drive-through, on hold . . . all those waiting minutes really add up, just be sure to always keep a few books handy!

Want the most out of your read-alouds?

Check out our: Tips for BOOKING-IT with success!

Thank you so much for reading this post and, more importantly, for reading to your child! I truly believe parents like you are changing the world one page, one story, one child at a time! <3


Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~

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