Making Reading a Part of Every Summer for Every Student

There has been a lot written recently on efforts to combat ‘summer slide ‘  By targeting the learning loss that occurs over three consecutive months of academic inactivity, parents and educators can help mitigate the pronounced effects of this summer slide.  Our own Lexile “Find a Book ” tool is an effort to do just that, to target students with reading material based on their own interests and reading level.

That’s why it’s good to hear of so many recent efforts designed to keep the educational spigot on during the summer months – from North Carolina, to Illinois, to Florida, to Oklahoma, and many more.  The Illinois Library Association and Illinois Governor, Pat Quinn, for example, have already announed their summer reading program, a program that utilizes Lexile measures and “Find a Book ” as the primary tools for getting students to read over the summer.  Fortunately, local media outlets have heard the message and are helping get the word out to parents who may not be aware of the importance of summer reading or the free utilities available to help.  Here’s the Northwest Herald, in ‘Reading Must Be Part of the Summer ‘, making the message loud and clear:

Students who don’t read during the summer can lose up to 60 percent of their skills over a 2-month vacation, according to a study cited by the Illinois State Board of Education.

That’s why summer reading is so important for young people.

The Illinois Library Association has encouraged local libraries to offer summer reading programs for about 30 years.  To complement that effort, the State Board of Education, backed by Gov. Pat Quinn and Secretary of State Jesse White, announced a new internet search tool that helps students find books to match their grade level and interests.

The Find a Book website not only helps families build a list of books for their children, but it also finds the nearest public libraries that carry each title.

There’s more.  In the recent online edition of Carolina Parent , Jennifer Gregory also reports on the importance of reading over the summer:

Francie Alexander, chief academic officer at Scholastic, explains that any activity, such as playing a musical instrument or participating in sports, requires practice.  If you stop practicing these activities, you will lose some of the skills you have gained.  If you child stops reading over the summer or a long break, the same thing will happen to the reading skills that he learned during the school year.  “Taking a break from books is taking a break from education,” Alexander says.

Mary Gray Leonard, director of media services in Durham Public Schools, punctuates the point even further and suggests that parents use the Lexile measure available from the End of Grade Testing Parent/Teacher Report to match their child to books over the summer.

It’s good to see the emphasis being placed where it belongs – on keeping students reading over the summer.  While we recognize the importance of summer as a respite from all the academic demands of the school year, it’s our hope that a less rigorous summer need not mean a summer free of all academic activity.  By keeping all students reading during the summer months, it’s our hope that all students maintain their reading abiity and intellectual curiosity and return to school in the fall well-rested, well-read, and ready to learn.

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