It can seem like kids forget how to read as soon as school is out. When faced with a choice between sitting down with a book and playing outside, going to camp, or doing one of a myriad of other activities that make summer so special, most kids will leave the book behind in a heartbeat. If you're concerned about how little time your kids choose to read on their own, here are some tips for helping them keep up their skills over the summer.

Let them choose what they read

It's tempting to try to get your kids to read the classics. If that fails, most parents think that Harry Potter is better than Captain Underpants or a graphic novel. However, pushing your kids too hard to read certain material will only move them away from reading entirely. Instead, let your kids choose their reading material over the summer. As long as it is age appropriate and not way below their grade level, there's nothing wrong with letting them have this choice.

If you feel strongly that you want your child to read particular books or if he has a reading list from school, barter those books for ones he likes better. For every book off your list that he reads, let him read one or two of his choice.

Introduce them to new books

Summer is a great time to introduce kids to books that they may not be familiar with. This is particularly true of books that you enjoyed as a kid but that might not get as much "press time" with students and teachers anymore. Take time to share with your kids why a book is important to you, and even read a little of it with them. You might be surprised at how much they enjoy it.

Read with them

Set aside some time everyday where the whole family reads. Make it a fun time, with some snacks and drinks or comfy beanbags on the floor. Not only does this let your kids see you reading, which will motivate them more than anything you can say to them, but it also makes the activity more social. Even if they don't talk to each other, your kids will enjoy being in a room with you and each other while they read.

Read to them

Many parents give up reading to their kids once the kids can read to themselves. The truth is, kids of all ages (and many adults!) like to be read to. Pick a book with a good story that they might not get through by themselves and read it to them. If your kids are old enough, you can have them read sections to you, too. This habit will not only let them practice their reading skills, but will teach them to read out loud.

Offer incentives

While some parents are against rewarding their kids for reading, incentives can be a good way to convince a reluctant reader to pick up a book. Offer a toy, a meal at a restaurant, ice cream, or something else your child likes, and determine how many books they have to read or days they have to read in a row to get the desired item. Make a checklist they can see, so they know how close they are to their goal and what more they need to do to reach it.

Bring books in the car

Many kids are used to listening to the radio or watching DVDs in the car, even on short trips. This summer, make your car an audio/video free zone and bring books instead. While your kids may complain initially, they will probably enjoy the quiet time as summer goes on. You can even bring the books in with you when you get to your destination, particularly if it involves waiting or something else your child might find boring.

Talk to your kids about what they read

Make sure you know what your kids are reading and have a conversation with them about it afterward. Even the most mundane books are teaching them something, and talking about it can help kids understand that books aren't just stories to amuse or ways to learn new things, but that they're about important ideas. This will also help you find out how much your child is understanding from the books she reads.

Getting kids to read doesn't have to feel like pulling teeth. These are only a few of the strategies out there that are available for parents who are concerned about how little time their kids spend with books, though. The most important thing is to have a plan and to follow through with that plan. Do that, and you'll have a summer that's not only fun, but productive as well.

How do you get your kids to read during the summer? What advice could you offer other parents?