How to Get Your Kids Excited About Summer Reading

Ah, summer! Is there a three-month period more fraught with dissenting objectives between kids and parents? Moms and dads of course want their children to have fun, be outside, and all that other wonderful summertime stuff. But we also want to make sure they don’t lose every bit of knowledge, motivation, and discipline they gained during the school year.

The go-to solution for many parents is summer reading. But unless you have one of those magical make-believe children who LOVES to read every minute of every day, getting our kids to crack a book during summer break can be a challenge. And as the dad of a 9-year-old with ADHD and serious addictions to swimming, video games, scootering, and anything that’s not sitting still with a book, it can be downright excruciating.

In an effort to make story time more engaging — and less of a chore — this summer we’re trying out a new app called NOVEL EFFECT.

summer reading - Novel Effect


As you read aloud from your favorite book, Novel Effect follows along and plays music, sound effects and character voices customized for that particular story. I’ve always enjoyed doing fun voices and silly sounds while reading to my son, but Novel Effect is next level… and something he can use when he reads on his own, too.

Available for free in the Apple and Google Play stores
It works with hundreds of popular children’s books, many of which you likely already own.
Great for bedtime, visits to grandma’s, long car/plane rides, sleepovers, campouts
You can skip pages and read your favorite parts again — the app responds no matter how you read.

I’m working on a demo video I’ll be sharing soon… But for now, check out my list of favorites, also featured on the Novel Effect mobile app this summer!

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Summer Reading - Be Who You Are

Be Who You Are

Written & illustrated by Todd Parr

Cartoonish, cute and colorful, Parr’s simplistic style distills the complex idea of self-acceptance into an approachable subject for your littlest ones. The minimal sound and musical flourishes scattered throughout make it fun to celebrate what makes you unique!

Buy on Amazon 

Summer Reading - Black All Around

Black All Around

Written by Patricia Hubbell, Illustrated by Don Tate

Look high, look low, look everywhere… The wonderful color black is there! Join a young girl as she discovers all the amazing things around her that are black. At times simple piano music and at times a jazzy beat, the music and playful effects bring the joyously colorful world of black to life!

Buy on Amazon

summer reading - A Bucket of Blessings

A Bucket of Blessings

Written by Kabir & Surishtha Sehgal, Illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong

Needing water in the middle of a drought, Monkey remembers a story his mother used to tell about how peacocks can make it rain. With only a leaky bucket and a lot of hope, he sets off for the peacock’s help. Accompany Monkey on his journey, and let the music inspire your own rain dance.

Buy on Amazon 

summer reading - Golden Domes & Silver Lanterns

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors

Written by Hena Khan, Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

In this cultural color book, red is the rug that a girl’s father kneels on to pray, while white is the kufi her granddad wears every day. The colors create large, detailed scenes while rhyming verses provide succinct explanations that flow with the authentic musical score.

Buy on Amazon 

summer reading - Grace for President

Grace for President

Written by Kelly DiPucchio, Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

When Grace Campbell learns there has never been a female U.S. president, she decides she wants to be the first and runs for president of her class. Listen for the chants of crowds and the patriotic spirit of the electoral college vote as the story shows anyone can be president, regardless of their gender.

Buy on Amazon 

Guess How Much I Love You - summer reading

Guess How Much I Love You

Written by Sam McBratney, Illustrated by Anita Jeram

Little Nutborwn Hare explores the many ways to measure love, all to put off going to bed. His father, Big Nutbrown Hare, recognizes his game and plays along until his little hare, exhausted, falls asleep. Pastoral sounds and sweeping brass instruments accompany their game and ease your own little ones to sleep.

Buy on Amazon 

Here We Are - summer reading

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth

Written & illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Insightfully sweet with a gentle humor, here is a guide to life on Earth. From a complex view of our planet’s terrain to a deep look at our place in space, witty text combines with the playful music and sounds for an experience you’ll want to read again and again.

Buy on Amazon 

Summer Reading - Knuffle Bunny

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale

Written & illustrated by Mo Willems

A father-daughter trip to the laundromat goes terribly wrong when they return home without Trixie’s favorite stuffed animal. She tries to warn her father, but too young to speak, she can only weep and wail until he understands. Hear the sounds of the city as they race back to rescue Knuffle Bunny.

Buy on Amazon 

My Dad Used to Be So Cool - summer reading

My Dad Used to Be so Cool

Written & illustrated by Keith Negley

Rock bands? Motorcycles? Tattoos? Would you believe my dad used to be cool? No? What if I had proof? This delightful story has a true rock-n-roll soundscape that will make it a blast for any dad to read with his kiddos, no matter how cool (or not) he is!

Buy on Amazon 

Not Quite Narwhal - summer reading

Not Quite Narwhal

Written & illustrated by Jessie Sima

Tropical music and bubbly underwater sound effects bring this amazing story about acceptance to life. Follow along as a unicorn born into a family of narwhals learns that you can be yourself and still belong, even if that means finding out you have more than one family!

Buy on Amazon 

Rosie Rever, Engineer - summer reading

Rosie Revere, Engineer

Written by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

With great ideas but little confidence, Rosie keeps her inventions to herself. Luckily, her great-great-aunt Rose recognizes her strength and restores Rosie’s spirit with an important lesson. With interactive character voices throughout, enjoy this story’s lesson that the only real failure is not trying.

Buy on Amazon 

Sparkle Boy - summer reading

Sparkle Boy

Written by Leslie Newman, Illustrated by Maria Mola

Casey loves to play with his blocks, puzzles, and dump truck, but he also loves things that sparkle. Casey’s older sister thinks this is weird. Shimmery, glittery, sparkly things are only for girls. Right? Touching musical moments brighten this story about and being who you are.

Buy on Amazon 

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On average, students lose two months of reading skills over the summer; this loss can begin as early as first grade.
In the fall, six weeks are spent re-learning old material to make up for this.
By sixth grade, students who’ve experienced summer reading loss are an average of two years behind their peers.
Good news! It only takes 2-3 hours of reading per week to prevent learning loss
Source: Oxford Learning


Hurry, before the kids have a chance to use the “B” word, go download the app to add an extra bit of summer fun to your family’s favorite books!

COMING SOON: I’ll be running a giveaway of the book I’ll be reading, so come back in a couple of weeks, check out my video, and enter to win the book!

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DISCLOSURES: I was compensated by Novel Effect for this post, however all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links — meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and purchase one of the books.

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