Youth Services Blog

Let’s Prevent Summer Reading Loss!

  Summer reading loss refers to the decline in children’s reading skills that can occur during summer vacation when children are away from the classroom. Not just a perception in the minds of educators, the reality of summer reading loss is well documented. Research involving 116 1st-3rd-graders from a school in a middle-class neighborhood found that the decoding skills of nearly 45% of the participants and the fluency skills of 25% declined between May and September. Lower-achieving students exhibited an even sharper decline than higher-achieving students.

Why does summer reading loss occur?

Access to reading materials has been consistently identified as a vital element in enhancing the reading development of children. Of all the activities in which children engage outside of school, time spent actually reading is the best predictor of reading achievement – the more students read, the better readers they become. The research indicates also that students, on average, spend pitifully little time reading outside of school – about 10 minutes.

What can be done to curb summer reading loss?

The value placed on literacy in the home, time spent reading with children, and the availability and use of reading materials have been identified as important elements in children’s reading success. Supporting reading development over the summer months can be done in ways that tap into children’s own interests and imaginations.

Adapted from Mraz, Maryann, and Timothy V. Rasinski. “Summer Reading Loss.” ReadingRockets.org. http://www.readingrockets.org/article/summer-reading-loss

This would be a wonderful time to coordinate with the local public library on its summer reading program!

Literacy tips for early readers

  • Sing songs, say short poems or nursery rhymes, and play rhyming words games with your child.
  • Point out print in the child’s environment: on cereal boxes, food labels, toys, restaurants, and traffic signs.
  • Tell stories to your child.
  • Read aloud to your child. Point to the words on the page as you read.
  • Read a short passage several times to your child until your child can read it with you. Then encourage your child to read the passage to you.
  • Encourage older children to read with younger children.
  • Encourage your child to read (or pretend read) to you. Make this reading enjoyable. Don’t worry if your child does not read all of the words correctly but, rather, applaud your child’s efforts to read.
  • Go to the library together.
  • Have books, magazines, and newspapers around the house. Let your child see you reading.
  • Encourage your child to write messages such as grocery lists, to-do lists, postcards, or short messages to family members or friends. Don’t worry about conventional spelling at this point but, rather, encourage your child’s first efforts at authorship.
  • When watching television, have the captioning feature enabled so that the children view the words while hearing them performed aloud.

Literacy tips for more advanced readers

  • Talk to your child about what he or she is reading. Ask open-ended questions such as “What do you think about that story?” “What would you have done if you were that character?”
  • Make reading and writing a regular part of your daily home activities. Let your child see you using reading and writing for real purposes.
  • Visit the public library. Help your child to get his or her own library card.
  • Read to your child regularly, even after your child is able to read some books independently.
  • Listen to your child read. Use strategies to help your child with tricky words. For example, when your child comes to an unfamiliar word, you might say, “Skip it and read to the end of the sentence. Now try again – what makes sense and looks like the word that you see?”
  • Praise your child’s efforts at reading.
  • Play word games such as thinking of different words to describe the same things.
  • Support your child’s writing. Have writing materials such as paper, markers, and pencils available. Read what your child writes.
  • Set reasonable limits for television viewing.

Adapted from Mraz, Padak, & Baycich (2002).

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