Picture Books

How to Host a Summer Reading Camp for Children

If you’re a long-time reader, you know how much I LOVE Ralphie. The best thing about moving back to Texas (besides the escape from Boston winters) was living close to her again. She is wonderful in so many ways, but she is especially fantastic in the mothering and educating department – I am always inspired by the amazing things she does with her girls. 

Two summers ago, she hosted a great little summer reading camp for her oldest daughter. Here are all the details if you want to do your own this summer.


Ralphie here.  I am the mother of 3 delicious chickens (girls), and one of my favorite things to do is teach them how they should feel about reading.   

My oldest daughter, Queenie, is a good little reader, but what’s more important to me is how she feels about reading.  So I do my best to maximize her interest by getting fresh books at the library every week, occupying an entire wall with forward facing book shelves, and creating a reading camp every summer.

The camp lasts for 6 weeks, and we met once a week for 2 hours.  We did it in the morning simply because I had a napper, but I would imagine the afternoons work just as well.

Queenie started out inviting 6 friends to participate, then the word got out and 4 more girls were added.  I also invited an older girl to be my helper.  She set things out for me, cleaned up behind me, and helped teach smaller groups when we broke up. 

Each week, we had a theme.  Some of the themes that we did were: experiments, fairy tales, friendship, pioneers, classic picture books, etc.  We even focused on a specific author, Bill Pete

The agenda each time consisted of:

  • Featured Books –  This was the first part and took the majority of our time.  We would read any where from one chapter book to six picture books, depending on their length.  We would then talk about each one, how it had to do with our theme, and make connections to what we already knew.
  • Activity – This activity would reinforce our theme.  For Experiments week, we made oobleck.  For princess week, we had our own princess academy where they had to pass of royal acts such as waving, walking with books on their head, and smiling a lot!
An activity with the theme “Bill Pete”. 
The author/illustrator used charcoal to draw his pictures, so the girls are trying their hand at it.
The gang.  It was Queenie’s birthday. (She’s in the middle with her face in the cupcake.)
  • Snack –  This were provided by the girls’ parents.  They did an amazing job of bringing food that went along with the theme.  For our pioneers theme one mom brought homemade bread and butter, berries and beef jerky.  I found that moms were more than willing to help and it really made my job so much easier!
  • Book Talk –  For the last 20 minutes we gathered together again and I showed more themed books.  I would just briefly touch on each one, giving a summary and showing pictures, just enough to spark their interest and curiosity in the book.  I made a list of these books and sent them home each week so that the girls could check them out at the library or buy them.  This had to be my favorite part of camp.  I loved watching them get so enthusiastic about books!
Queenie was 7 (going on 8) when we created this camp.  You can easily tweak things here and there to make it more age-appropriate for your child.  This summer she will be doing a book CLUB, which is thrilling for her.  Very grown up with chapter books and friends hosting it at their homes.

Our entire family has benefited from reading camp as the younger ones just toddled along with us.  As parents we all know it is important to teach our children how to read, but don’t be afraid to teach them to love it too!

She kills me.

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  • Reply Nicole May 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I LOVE this idea! I am a nanny/former teacher and I am tutoring two little girls in reading this summer. This is a phenomenal idea to help keep them engaged and excited. I cannot wait to get started! Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Reply Kayla May 16, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    This is WAY fun, and exactly the kind of thing I would have been into as a little girl! Also, LOVE the new blog design! 🙂

  • Reply Lexilooo May 16, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I adore this! So, so much!

  • Reply Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com May 16, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Wow how fabulous is this – my bookworm self would have LOVED this as a girl too! P.S. Your blog looks awesome!

  • Reply Marnie Craycroft May 17, 2013 at 1:39 am

    Love this idea…lots of learning and fun. I would have loved this type of activity as a child.

  • Reply Brett and Emily May 17, 2013 at 2:09 am

    I love this! Thanks. Also, fabulous recipes on the other posts. You have such a great blog.

  • Reply Hohmann Family May 17, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I love this idea. I've been wanting to incorporate a book reading/writing project a few times a week this summer for my 1st and 2nd graders-to-be. If you have any suggestions for theme/authors I would love suggestions.

  • Reply Meghan May 22, 2013 at 4:17 am

    Ralphie has some awesome ideas. Glad I Got to be a part of one.

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