As the end of the school year rapidly approaches, and summer plans for the family come more clearly into view, it’s time, as we did last year on The PediaBlog, to acknowledge and avoid the “summer slide” by having children crack open some books during the extended vacation:

Experts agree that children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not often slide backward. According to the authors of a November 2002 report from Johns Hopkins Center for Summer Learning “A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year…. It’s common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills.” Furthermore, they note that family income plays a significant role in determining the magnitude of this summer slide. Students from low-income families “…experience an average summer learning loss in reading achievement of over two months.”


Jessica Lahey tells us why making sure your children are the best possible readers is so important:

Literacy is a prime predictor of student success, as well as a range of economic and physical well-being. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly half of the adult population, or 93 million Americans, read at or below the basic level needed to contribute successfully to society. Adults below this basic level of literacy are far more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty, while individuals who achieve higher levels of literacy are more likely to be employed, earn higher wages, and vote in state and national elections. “With nearly half the adult population currently reading at or below the basic level, our country is truly in the middle of a literacy crisis,” said Carol H. Rasco, president and chief executive of RIF. “This is not a problem we can wait to solve or afford not to act on. If the United States is to be a competitive player in the global marketplace, we must ensure that all children have access to essential literacy tools.”


Reading is Fundamental (RIF) recognizes three important components to enhance reading proficiency and prevent the summer slide: access to high-quality books, allowing children the choice in book selection, and book ownership. Brain Balance has tips to engage young students who don’t enjoy, or who struggle with, reading (and if your child doesn’t like reading, chances are they aren’t very good readers):


Encourage your child to read short passages during the day. Encourage your child to read signs when shopping, menus when you’re at restaurants, and other print you see each day. For kids who avoid reading, keeping tasks short and integrating them into each day will ease frustration.

Reward your child’s effort. Research shows that reading just six books during the summer months can help kids avoid the summer slide. Encourage your child to set a summer reading goal and decide on a completion date. Keep a tally of books completed so your child can “see” his or her progress and visually relate it to accomplishing his or her goal.

Reward your child’s effort. Kids should be reading books that challenge their current reading level without being so difficult that reading causes frustration. Check with your child’s school about his or her current Lexile® level, which is an indicator of reading ability that helps match kids with appropriate texts for growth and comprehension.

Read aloud to your child. Struggling readers, even older ones, will improve listening comprehension skills and fluency by listening to you read aloud. Additionally, you can read books to your child that are above his or her current reading level which will help increase your child’s vocabulary and tempo, both of which will support your child’s independent reading skills and help prevent the summer slide.


Check out some suggested summer reading lists at Scholastic’s “The Stacks”Barnes and Noble’s “Summer Reading Program”, and the Association for Library Service to Children’s “Summer Reading List.”