The children are home, and the summer activity routine has taken over.  The day is full of driving to baseball practice, swim lessons, and trying to fit in some fun time at the beach as well.  Maybe you have found the time to get your children involved with a monthly STEM subscription, Khan Academy lessons, or some other scheduled “school-lite” activity.

Have you remember to include daily reading – both for your child AND for you?

Is Summer Reading Important?

Unequivocally, yes!  While I find the idea of teaching younger students for nine months only to let them forget a good chunk of it over the next 3 a problem we should have already solved, we haven’t made much progress changing the status quo.    During the summer break, children need to be encouraged to read so they retain the skills they’ve worked hard to attain and don’t fall victim to the Summer Slide.

What Is the Summer Reading Slide?

The Summer Slide is the tendency of some students to lost some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year.  While any child can suffer from it, it tends to strike those from low-income families more often.  One study indicated that on average low-income households fall behind by 2 months during the summer months.  This effect is cumulative – every summer, they fall behind by an additional 2 months on their peers.

If reading is not a habit in the household, the child will not be exposed to reading during this time and less likely to get involved with good books.  On the positive side, access to books helps low-income students more.  There is more gain in reading scores from spring to fall in lower income students with exposure to books than there is for higher-income students.  Keep in mind, all students benefit from reading over the summer.

How To Stop The Slide

There are steps you can take to slap the summer slide into submission:

  • LET YOUR CHILDREN SEE YOU READING FOR ENJOYMENT.  Keep books all around the house to show that reading is important for you and the family.  You as a parent are the biggest influence on your children – and if your child sees you enjoying reading they are more likely to take up the habit themselves.  Talk about it as well.
  • Let children select their own reading materials.  When kids are allowed to choose their own books and can read for enjoyment, they tend to get the largest gains across the entire reading achievement spectrum.  Comprehension, writing style, spelling and grammar skills all increase at a faster rate with control.
  • Join in a family challenge to gamify reading a bit.  Here are three national organizations that facilitate reading challenges through the summer:
    Book It! Summer Challenge
    Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
    Reading Rockets
    Brightly
  • Connect reading to your everyday events.  If you are out for a day at the ballpark or the zoo, read about baseball or animals before and after the day.  This will help your child to associate reading with the wider world, rather than just think of it as a “have-to-do” event that parents and teachers require.
  • Make reading a social event.   Get the whole family to join in reading their own books. You can also take turns reading the same book aloud. Adding storytelling to the ritual will allow children to see reading is not only fun but practical.
  • Magazines and reading about hobbies are ok!  Remember, it’s important your child reads something – and they are more likely to do that if the subject matter is interesting.  So find an interesting magazine or books on their hobbies.

Ideas For Age Appropriate Reading

While your child might have some ideas on what they wish to read, not every child has an idea of what books are out there.  Luckily, there are many reading lists available for you to print out and work from.

Mommy Evolution has a huge roundup list, with reading ideas by age group for the past four years.  It’s a great starting place if you are stuck for reading ideas.

Do you have any other reading hints? If so, please leave them in the comments!

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