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Back Helping Your Child Succeed Summertime reading is important for academic success in the fall

Summertime reading is important for academic success in the fall

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MANY research studies have shown that most students experience a loss in reading skills over summer vacation.

However, children who continue to read during the summer months retain their reading skills and perform better academically than those who did not. In addition, educators consider summertime reading very important for maintaining overall literacy skills and for developing good reading habits. The following are some suggestions for summertime reading activities that parents can use to help their children sustain their reading skills during the summer and beyond:

  1. Set a good example for your children by keeping lots of varied reading material around the house. For books, include different authors and genres (biographies, adventure, historical fiction, science fiction, myths, legends, poetry and mystery). In addition to books, have magazines, newspapers, and comics available. For good readers, offer them reading material that will challenge and stimulate them. For poor and/or reluctant readers, offer them reading material that they can read without difficulty yet will keep their interest.
  2. Take your children to the library at least once per week to choose additional reading material, and ask your librarian for a calendar of special summer reading activities and events.
  3. Research shows that reading just six books during the summer may keep struggling readers from regressing. When choosing the six, be sure that they are just right – not too hard and not too easy. Ask the librarian or bookstore assistant for help selecting books that match your child's age, interests and abilities.
  4. Let kids choose what they want to read. Summertime reading should be fun, enjoyable and stress free.
  5. Read aloud together with your children every day. Choose from a variety of reading material, and vary the setting of your read-a-louds by reading at the beach or at the park. Also, let your children read to you at times.
  6. Buy books on tape (in addition to the book itself) for young children as well as for children who are experiencing reading difficulties. That way, children can follow the story along in the book as they are listening to it. You can also have your child listen to the book first, have him/her read the book along with the tape, and then have him/her read the book to himself or herself at a later time.
  7. Subscribe to children’s magazines for your child. Some popular children’s magazines are Sports Illustrated for Kids, Highlights for Children, or National Geographic World. To make things extra special, subscribe to the magazine in your child’s name. Encourage older children to read the newspapers and current events magazines such as Time or Newsweek. Afterwards, ask them what they thought about the things they read, and listen to what they say.
  8. Encourage children to keep a summer scrapbook. They can include photos of your family’s summertime activities, tickets stubs from movies they’ve seen, or souvenirs from places you visited. If you went on vacation during the summer, include postcards of the places you visited as well. Have your children write the captions underneath each item. Later, you can read them aloud as you look though the book together and reminisce about times past.

While parents should encourage their children to read in the summer and provide plenty of opportunities for them to do so, it’s important for parents to remember that children need a lot of free time in the summer to relax and have fun as well.

Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed, MA, is a teacher with 24 years of professional experience. You can write to her at successfullearner[at] with your questions or comments.

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