Fighting Summer Slide

Unfortunately, many low-income students have less access to print materials during the summer.  Limited access to reading material has often been cited as a significant factor contributing to academic summer loss – a loss that, when considered in aggregate over twelve years, goes a long way in accounting for the persistent achievement gap.  That’s why it’s exciting to hear that an experimental program across seven states is demonstrating that a $50 stack of paperbacks can sometimes do as much for a child’s academic fortunes as a $3,000 stint in summer school.

In a recent USA Today article, ‘Free Books Block ‘Summer Slide’ in Low-Income Students ‘, Richard Allington previewed a study that will be published later this year in Reading Psychology. Seventeen high poverty schools elementary schools in Florida were provided books for 852 students.  For three consecutive years each child was given twelve self-selected books.  Three years later, researchers found that those students had significantly higher reading scores, experienced less summer learning loss, and read more on their own each summer as compared to students who did not receive the books.

Access Books , a program founded by Rebecca Constantino, which to date has given away one million books, says that, “when kids own books they get this sense, ‘I’m a reader’.”  Her program has expanded from Richmond County, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina to eight more cities this summer.  The concept is simple, but shows how simple solutions, when applied in earnest, can sometimes mitigate complex problems.

This research lends support to the usefulness of our own tool, “Find a Book “.  “Find a Book ” was built around research demonstrating the powerful impact of allowing students to self-select books based on their own interest and targeted at their reading level.  “Find a Book ” is also linked to public libraries – making the process of acquiring self-selected summer reading lists available to everyone.  Now that summer’s here, be sure to check it out.

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