Summertime is upon us. That means long days of fun camps, swimming, ice cream eating and you hope, reading. Here are five ways to help your child find joy in a book.

1. Get outside and READ!

Gather your family, a few flashlights, a comfy blanket, a snack and a stack of your favorite books and head to the great outdoors. Whether you’re on vacation, in a park or in your own backyard, pop up a tent for added fun – or drape a sheet over a clothesline or between two trees. Being outside will likely inspire kids to take advantage of their surroundings too. If you’re surrounded by nature, show your kids how to make rubbings of trail markers, tree bark, and leaves, collect objects and start building a Reading Under the Stars scrapbook. Take pictures to add to your album too. Trying out new and different places to read as a family – the beach, a tree house, the park — and creating a sense of play makes reading that much more fun.

2. Be prepared!

No matter where you go or what you’ve planned (or not planned) for this summer, stash the following summer reading essentials in a bag or the car for spontaneous “drop everything and read” adventures: a comfy blanket, tent or camping chairs, sunscreen, bug spray, flashlights and extra batteries, water and snacks, and of course a bag full of your family’s favorite books, magazines, graphic novels, and news– whatever they like to read.

3. Read (and learn) all about it. Go star gazing this summer. The big night sky tells a story all its own and there are fantastic books that will bring the night sky to life in a whole new way for kids. Head to the library, your local bookstore or go online together with your kids to find books, information and star charts that tell the tales of the constellations, the Milky Way, star myths, the galaxy and beyond. Visit a planetarium or head outside at night with a telescope to connect the stories you read to what you see.

4. Get Crafty! Let your creativity run wild. Make crafts inspired by the themes, characters or places in the books you’re reading. Read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and make your own wands. Read The Secret Garden and make tissue paper flowers. Decorate a canvas tote so kids will have their own bags to fill with library books.

5. Go beyond the book. One way to make the books your kids are reading “real” is to take trips to the destinations mentioned in the books your kids are reading. If you can go to the actual place, fantastic. If not, choose destinations that map back to the theme and take a walk in the characters shoes. Reading From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs.Basil E. Frankweiler? Head to an art museum and imagine you’re Claudia and Jamie sleuthing through the halls of amazing art. Reading about characters who escape to an island or deserted beach? Head to the seashore and let you kids imagine they’re the characters surviving by the sea. There are infinite ways to bring stories to life – keep it simple and help connect-the-dots and you’ll see the spark that takes place when your kids make the connection.

Maggie McGuire is Vice President, eScholastic, Kids and Parents Online Channels. The Scholastic summer reading challenge, with the theme “Reading Under the Stars,” kicked off May 5. It’s not too late to jump in. Join McGuire and Amy Joyce on Wednesday to discuss books for kids and how to get them reading. (You can post your question in advance.)

Read Joyce’s piece about getting reluctant readers to read.