The ‘summer slide’ refers to the very real backsliding in reading development that can occur during summer vacation when kids are out of school. Simply put, any child who doesn’t read over the summer months is likely to experience a loss in reading skills. However, those children who read regularly when school is out retain or even slightly improve their reading abilities.
Why summer reading is important
Summer vacation equates to nearly one-third of the academic year. Annually, children in Alberta spend 950 to 1,000 hours in school, compared to 1,500 to 1,700 hours outside of school over the summer months (including sleep).
Summer reading has been shown to considerably close the achievement gap between low income and more affluent students - a gap that may have developed through poor school-readiness, few books at home and other social or economic factors that reduce the ability or frequency of children and their caregivers to read at home.
Children who are already struggling and don’t read over the summer continue to fall behind their peers. By the end of Grade 5, children in need can fall as much as three grades behind their peers in reading skills.
The volume of summer reading is the best indicator of summer reading loss or gain
Generally, when it comes to how much your child is reading, consider this: the Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report, Fifth Edition, said of kids aged six to 11 (who were read aloud to daily before Kindergarten, are still read aloud to at home, limit computer time and like books that have characters similar to them) read on average 43 books a year compared to 21 books read by infrequent readers.
Most educators suggest that even reading just six books during summer vacation can help your child maintain or improve their reading level
There are four important elements to building lifelong readers.
Helping your child become a strong and lifelong reader can be easy:
1. Access. Make books and other print materials easily accessible to your child. Have books in every room of your home and store books in your vehicle. To expand your child’s reading selection, visit your local library. Children with greater access to books develop better attitudes toward reading, read more often, develop better language skills and demonstrate better overall academic achievement.
2. Choice. Children need books that are ‘just right’ - not too easy and not too hard. Let your child choose what they want to read. As they fall in love with the books they’ve selected, then you can help them discover more books! Studies have found that children who were given the opportunity to choose the books they read had reading scores almost double those of children whose books were selected by someone else.
3. Foster independence. Help your child discover that reading is a conversation between them and the author; encountering difficulty with reading is a normal part of reading and gives them confidence to push on through; and provide the environment (quiet, welcoming spaces with adequate light) where they can read independently.
4. Model reading. Let your children see you reading for pleasure and purpose. By showing that you value and enjoy reading, you will help foster your child’s reading interest and success!
Ways to make reading fun this summer:
Start a summer scrapbook with your child. Collect ticket stubs, photos and programs. Help your child journal about the fun things you experienced as a family.
Do a book swap with friends and family, and keep ‘new to you’ books circulating all summer!
Help your child design and write postcards and mail them to family and friends.
Calgary Reads innovates and inspires the reading revival, because we all have a role to play in creating a thriving community where all children can read with confidence and joy! Visit calgaryreads.com for videos, resources and games to help you build the joy of reading in your child.
Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2017 Calgary’s Child