Kids can learn to excel in sports, music and other activities through practice, and practice can also help make perfect when it comes to reading. Lucille Lettow, youth collection librarian at the University of Northern Iowa, says parents need to encourage their kids to continue hitting the books during summer vacation.

Lettow says, "Summertime is a really great time to practice reading without it being the kind of structured experience you have during the school year. Children can practice reading on things that are of interest to them." She suggests parents and children set aside a specific time for reading each day, maybe a half-hour after lunch or before bedtime.

Lettow says kids might not have had the chance all school year to read a fantasy story or something about a sports hero, so now is the time when they can sit down for long periods and read on their own. She says for many years, teachers would send their students home with summer reading lists.

Lettow says some teachers still send home summer reading lists, but if they didn’t have one, check with the nearest public library. She also suggests going on-line to get recommendations from places like the American Library Association or the International Reading Association. During the summertime, she says children can develop lifelong reading habits by pursuing certain authors or topics.

Lettow says reading a story about a seahorse may lead to reading non-fiction books on seahorses, which may then lead to books about other types of marine life. Lettow says: "Time passes a lot quicker when you’re waiting at the dentist, or some other place where waiting can sometimes be a pain, if you’ve got a good book. I even see sometimes children in restaurants waiting for the meal to be served with a book right there at hand."

She suggests kids keep a reading journal, recording the titles and authors of the books they read along with a brief summary about why the book seemed special. She says parents could also encourage activities that stem from the books a child reads — like science experiments, recipes or crafts.