Preventing the Summer Reading Slide
Susan Hegarty, Reading Specialist & Glen S. McKay, Principal
Summer vacation, with its days free from the routines of the typical school week, is rapidly approaching. However, educators nation-wide worry that along with relaxing summer days, students will lose the reading gains that they acquired during the preceding school year if they do not continue to consistently engage in literacy activities over the summer. Numerous research studies indicate that an achievement gap in reading develops and widens during the summer months. According to the “Reading is Fundamental” (RIF) website “experts agree that children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not, often slide backward.” “Launching Summer Reading” by Donalyn Miller of Scholastic, Inc. wrote in 2016 that “reading research indicates that many children’s reading ability declines between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next because they generally do not read much over the summer. But, by reading just four or five books over the summer break, students can keep up the good work they’ve strived to achieve all year.” A general consensus amongst numerous research studies supports the fact that struggling readers lose more ground over the summer than proficient readers if they do not engage in summer reading, and those losses can create a wider gap between proficient readers and struggling readers. By the time these readers reach middle school, summer reading loss can accumulate to a two year lag in reading achievement!
Considering the research that supports that reading is the cornerstone of learning, one might ask, “What can caregivers and parents do to minimize the summer reading slide?” First and foremost, develop summer reading habits at the beginning of the summer with a daily reading routine. Set a timer for twenty to thirty minutes and designate that as reading time with no external distractions going on in the background. Immerse your entire family in activities that involve literacy activities so that children can view the adults in their lives as “reading and writing role models” firsthand. Encourage your children to keep a writing journal to fill with writing about their summer experiences to the beach, or a neighborhood bike ride, or a family day trip. Providing a print rich environment, being a reading role model for your children, and promoting a love of reading will lessen the “summer reading slide”, as well as ease the transition back to school in the fall.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of free resources out there to assist caregivers and parents with nurturing and supporting literacy activities over the summer months. Here are just a few of the many ways parents can promote rewarding reading habits this upcoming summer.
* Enroll your children in your town’s free summer reading program. This year the North Reading Flint Memorial Library’s free summer reading program is centered around the theme “Build A Better World”. This theme kicks-off on June 26th and continues until August 18th. Check out the library’s website to discover the reading incentive programs they are offering for various grade levels as well as the enrichment programs they have scheduled over the summer. One popular reading incentive that is being offered again is a free entrance pass to the 2017 Topsfield Fair with a hot dog, drink, and two game tickets for children who read the required number of minutes between June 26th and August 18th.
* Enroll your child in the Red Sox Summer Reading Game sponsored by the Massachusetts Teacher’s Association to promote literacy. Kindergarten through grade 8
children who pledge to read nine books and then submit their pledge cards, will
be entered into a drawing to win a family pack of 4 tickets to a Red Sox game
(Pledge cards will soon be distributed to all Fenway Park North
Reading elementary school children.)
* Another freebie to take advantage of is to sign your children up for Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program where they can read their way to a free book. By going online to BN.COM/summerreading or by visiting your closest Barnes & Noble bookstore, parents can sign their children up for this free reading incentive.
* A “20 for 20 Family Reading Challenge” is being offered by Scholastic, Inc. This free online and mobile reading program helps children discover the power and joy of reading during the summer. Explore Scholastic’s website for a wealth of free family resources and activities that promote reading and writing.
* Visit the National Summer Learning Association website for “Easy Summer Learning Tips for Parents”. www.SummerLearning.org
* The popular website, “Pinterest”, has an amazing collection of literacy ideas for families and children of all ages that is bound to keep families immersed in literacy all summer long!
*Start a book club with your children and their friends and parents. Forming a book club is a fun, social way to encourage summer reading with follow-up conversations and activites for parents and children alike.
* Create book baskets for the whole family and have them readily available around the house or ready to travel. Make it fun and include newspapers, comic books, children’s magazines, cookbooks, and crossword puzzles.
Remember, your primary goal is to motivate your children to read throughout the summer to prevent the summer reading slide. Engaging your entire family in reading activities throughout the summer is bound to promote a lifelong love of reading!