Five ways to make summer reading a walk in the park

School’s out, the sun is shining, the grass is green and you can’t wait to hang out at the pool with friends. But wait a second… you’re only two years away from starting college (or scarier yet, only one year away). Didn’t your school counselor say something about preparing for college over the summer? Chances are, he or she probably did.

Where should you start? The good news is, the solution is relatively simple: just sit down with a tall glass of lemonade, put your feet up and dive into a book!

Before you start to make faces, however, listen to this. When you read, you expose yourself to different writing styles and new vocabulary — all of which makes your own writing more interesting. These are skills that will be extremely important in college and the working world.

And don’t forget about those ACT tests looming on the horizon! Practicing your reading skills now will help make vocabulary and reading comprehension questions easier to digest when test time rolls around.

For those of you who find reading less than appealing, here are five easy ways to become the bookworm your high school English teacher can be proud of:


  • Start with something you know you’ll enjoy. Don’t head straight for Barnes and Noble’s classic literature section – Dickens and Shakespeare can wait. Focus on reading about a topic you love, whether it’s basketball, skateboarding, music or dancing. It doesn’t need to be a “technical read” either. Pick out a mystery novel with an intriguing plotline or immerse yourself in a fantasy work filled with magic and adventure.


  • Set aside 15 minutes a day. You don’t have to read for hours and hours to enjoy the benefits. Even 15 minutes a day is enough to get you started. Instead of squeezing in a social media session before bed, put your phone away and open a book. Not only will you build reading skills, you’ll also help your mind relax and your body unwind.


  • Read with a friend. Who says reading needs to be a solitary activity? Invite a friend to read a book with you, then schedule a weekly coffee date to discuss your favorite chapters. This will help you maintain your reading progress and keep you accountable to your reading goals.


  • Become a news junkie. If you don’t feel like reading an entire book, try picking out a few articles from a newspaper. News articles are relatively short, but they are also chockful of information about politics, medicine, business and recreational activities. Impressing your parents with knowledge about current events is a bonus.


  • Create your own reading nook. Sometimes a change in environment can make a world of difference. Instead of reading in the family room where rowdy siblings and the TV can cause ample distractions, find a quiet, well-lit space where you can read in peace. Keep some comfy pillows and snacks on hand for the ultimate reading experience – think of it like a DIY vacation!

Reading is an investment in your future. It not only helps you develop your comprehension and writing skills, it’s also a great way to unwind, learn more about the world around you and start meaningful conversations with your friends and family. So, bring on the summer reads! With a little luck, the books you read this summer will launch you into the next chapter of life – college and a career.