Summer’s arrival can often present a challenge to young and growing readers. Without assignments and easy access to books, students may not be motivated to read regularly during the summer months!
This difficulty has very real consequences for students’ efforts to become independent and confident readers.
Students who do not read during the summer lose between two and three months of reading development.
By the 5th grade, this loss amounts to two years of foregone development and a significant disadvantage as they go on to middle and high school.1 In other words, reading development regresses if students stop reading over the summer. Educators call this decline the summer slide.
So how can parents and mentors inspire students to read when there are so many tantalizing competing activities to do? Here are New Haven Reads’ top five tips for preventing summer slide!
1. Plan a trip to your local public library.
Giving students the opportunity to explore a variety of genres is essential for selecting the right books. Plan a trip to the local library that the student can look forward to! By accompanying them and helping them check out books, parents and mentors can help students feel responsible for their reading. Of course, the library is not the only place to find books students will love; visit the NHR Book Bank! Students can find fantastic, FREE books at all reading levels that they can keep.
2. Select four to six books that the student finds interesting.
Reading four to six books during the summer maintains and improves a student’s reading level in preparation for the upcoming school year.2 However, it is important for students to select books that genuinely interest them—otherwise, they may not actually read the books! In addition, books should be at an appropriate reading level so the student can read without frustration. To find appropriate reading level books, read several pages with the student to determine if they can read without long pauses or frequent distraction.
3. Read something every day.
It’s not necessary to set a strict schedule or outline exactly what students will read every day of summer. However, students should take advantage of reading opportunities all around them! This can be a part of other fun summer activities. As they visit parks, museums, zoos, and even stores, encourage them to read signs and share what they learn. When they don’t feel motivated to read from their selected summer books, encouraging them to read casually in this way makes reading a regular part of their daily routine.
4. Read aloud.
In the course of reading both their chosen books and other material, invite students to read aloud, and in turn read aloud to them. This increases students’ engagement and confidence and also fosters reading comprehension if followed up with questions about what they have read. Help them with their pronunciation and pace as they read aloud, and compliment them often!
5. Invest in the right kind of screen time.
It is easy to think of technology as competition to reading, but students’ time in front of a screen is not necessarily harmful. Students and parents can use computers, tablets, and phones to access reading material and educational games. As long as recreational uses of technology don’t keep students from reading, there is no reason to restrict such activities absolutely. The key is to strike a productive and enjoyable balance.
1 Children’s Literacy Initiative, “5 Tips for Preventing Summer Slide”
2 BookSource, “Stop Summer Slide with Summer Reading”