With our kids’ summer break kicking off this weekend, we came up with a fun twist on our usual summer reading goals. We had the idea while playing “would you rather” on a family walk this morning, came home and whipped up a paper template, and an hour later Sherry mentioned it in passing on Instagram. Then Sherry’s DMs filled up with people asking her to share a copy of the bracket or tell them where we got it (we whipped it up in Photoshop), so we decided to drop two free printable options of it here in this post. I even had some fun myself, as a 41-year-old man, making this filled-out sample above (our kids put much wackier places on theirs ;)
The idea is simple: have your kids test out different reading locations and have each spot face off in a head-to-head March Madness-style bracket. Which is better: reading on my bed or under my bed? On a float in the pool or in a blanket fort? On the hammock or the outdoor swing. In the empty tub in a sleeping bag, or curled up in our swivel chair by the fireplace. We thought it would be a fun way for our kids to mix up their reading routine, while officially crowning their favorite place to cozy up to a book.
After first printing the simplified version above (which is the one Sherry showed on Instagram), I did some slight fine-tuning. First, I added some time guides that built up for each stage of the competition. Things start at 15 minutes in each location and ultimately build to 30 minutes (feels like more of a true test of each spot).
I also split the bracket into two sides (literally): inside locations vs outside locations. This definitely inspired our kids to get more creative with their spots while encouraging lots of fresh air – and I think it’ll make for a more interesting final showdown. My bet is on the hammock taking the crown (Sherry has her money on “floating in the pool”).
We let our kids come up with their own 16 locations, which was another fun activity on its own. Our son and daughter picked most of the same match-ups, but it was also fun seeing where each of their bracket locations diverged. They even chose two reading spots out in our neighborhood to see if “destination reading” is more fun.
The printable is pretty simple because we wanted to let the kids color and personalize it as they go (markers, stickers, etc). We thought of adding some blank lines to keep a reading log as they go, but we concluded they could just jot that down on the back of the paper if they wanted.
Other Reading Bracket Variations
There are lots of other ways you can tailor this to your kids, their ages, their reading interests, etc. Like:
- Each round involves a different kind of book (start with comics or graphic novels and build up to chapter books by the finals).
- Each round adds a new “comfort” item (maybe a stuffed animal, then a snack, then a drink).
- Incorporate bonuses for completing a round (like getting to choose a new book at the local bookstore or library – or earning time when mom or dad reads to them instead).
- Let siblings add to each others’ brackets to introduce funny or weird locations (like “I challenge you to read for 15 minutes up in a tree”).
It can honestly be as involved or as simple as you’d like. This is our first time trying this out since the kids seemed so into the idea when we came up with it on our morning walk. And if all goes well, following the brackets will add up to 30 different reading sessions, totaling over 9 hours with their books (for each of them). Our kids love to read, so this isn’t really our way of tricking them into it – but it sure feels like the novelty of a head-to-head bracket competition has made them extra into cracking their books right away (both of them are reading in two pretty wacky locations as I type this).
Again, here are the links to download each version:
Happy reading! Feel free to message Sherry on Instagram to tell her what spots ended up being the favorites in your household. Kind of makes me want to see if I truly prefer our hanging daybed, our hammock, or a lounge chair by our pool… but I might just keep playing the field with all of them.