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July 27, 2015 11:00 AM EDT

As anyone will tell you, kids who don’t read over the summer actively lose some of what they learned the year before.

Summer reading lists are great, and the world is full of them, including this one from the American Library Association. But how can parents get their kids to turn to books when there are so many other distractions that beckon them?

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With elementary age kids, says literacy advocate Jen Robinson, it’s good to read aloud – even long after kids can read for themselves. “Kids who are read to even after they can read on their own are more likely to continue to enjoy reading as they get older,” she says. And “reading together gives families a common vocabulary, and a springboard for all kinds of interesting discussions.” Parents can get their kids to think about the book with questions like “What do you think will happen next? Do you think that was a good ending?”

Middle school kids probably don’t want to have their parents read aloud to them. But there’s no reason parents can’t read along with them, says Andrew Medlar, president of the American Library Service to Children. At this age, “aspirational reading is very big,” he says: kids are “wanting to be grown up, and be perceived as grown up, and learn about what the teen and grown up world is all about.” It’s a great time for parents to pick up the same book their kids are reading, and start a conversation about it.

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High school students are starting to become more independent, Medlar says. So it’s a key time to leave reading materials out that “they can discover.” They also have a lot more reading for school, Robinson observes. So parents can start conversations with them about “how to find time for pleasure reading–and how to keep the assigned reading” from feeling like “drudgery”–so that kids develop, and keep, a lifelong love of reading.

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