Keep Students Reading During the Summer Break

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The summer break is a great excuse for kids to close their books and enjoy nice weather before the next school year starts up.

Wait – close their books?!

That may not be such a good idea. Research has shown that disruptions in learning over the summer break can lead to the so-called ‘summer slide’ – when student test scores drop as a result of time away from school. In fact, a 2020 study shows younger students lose, on average, as much as 20% of progress made during the school year over their summer break.

So, what can be done to stop the slide? Encourage your students to read at home, and if possible, help families find access to books students enjoy. Just like with classroom reading, the three keys to engaged reading remain true for summer reading: students need access, choice and just right books that they want to read.

10 Tips for Engaged Summer Reading

Host a summer library check out
Encourage your students to check out books from your classroom library, or if available, your school’s library. Certainly the hope is that the students will return books the following school year or over the summer, if possible, but even if they forget, the benefits of students having the books outweighs the risk of a few losses.

Arrange book swaps
Instead of (or in addition to) offering books from your classroom library, organize book swaps between families or with local organizations. Many organizations, like community libraries, offer free books that families can keep, and other families may be looking to trade some of their titles for someone else’s. 

Share information with families
Use school newsletters, websites, take-home fliers, etc. to get information out to families about the importance of summer reading and strategies for engaging their students.

Encourage participation in summer reading programs
Your school or local library may have a summer reading program with incentives built in like free T-shirts, free books, activities and more. Share information and even sign-up forms to make it easy.

Think outside the book
ALL reading counts. Whether it’s graphic novels, comic books, magazines, age-appropriate blogs, websites or others, encourage students and their families to seize every available opportunity to read.

Encourage social reading
Students are more likely to read when they know that others are reading, too. In fact, in research published in Harvard Educational Review, Joan Kernan Cone found that student reading communities comprised of peers are likely to encourage other students to read books that they have enjoyed and increase students’ engaged reading. You know your students will be gathering with friends over the summer, so urge them to use some of their time together to host book clubs or discuss their favorite books. 

Share your own summer reading plans
By setting a good reading example, you can inspire your students to want to continue reading even when not in the classroom. Share your reading goals and what books you plan to read to help spark their own desires and creativity.

Set goals together
How many books should your students read during the break? What new titles or series will they try? Encourage daily reading and encourage students to bring a book with them wherever they go.

Make reading fun
Remind your students that reading should be fun! Organize book scavenger hunts or check out Booksource’s collection of free reading games.

Send students home with Take Home Packs
Booksource makes it simple to bridge the gap between home and school with affordable Take Home Packs. Perfect for summertime reading, each Take Home Pack collection features 4-5 high interest books and an engaging workbook with activities for students and their families.

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