To young kids, summer break means fun and endless possibilities. But for parents, it often comes with a bit of added stress: There might be childcare to strategize, trips to plan, and, of course, the pesky summer slide to avoid.
The summer slide is the loss of reading and math skills that many children experience during the summer months, when they’re not in school. Reading can help prevent it! In fact, according to findings from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™: 7th Edition, kids know that reading provides benefits that extend well beyond the summer months: Seventy-seven percent agree that reading over the summer will help them during the school year.
One of the best ways to get kids to dive into a summer series is to join the Scholastic Summer Reading-a-Palooza, a summer reading program designed to develop lifelong readers by encouraging reading for fun during the summer. This year, kids can experience the challenge through Scholastic Home Base, a free digital destination which offers stories, characters, and games, in a safe community for readers!
Through Home Base, kids can make new friends, earn virtual rewards, and help unlock book donations for kids with limited or no access to books by starting and keeping “reading streaks” when they read every day over the summer. Learn more about the challenge here!
James Kim, M.Ed, an assistant professor of education at Harvard University, is the principal investigator for READS for Summer Learning, a program that seeks to improve children’s reading and comprehension skills throughout the summer months.
Here are the three more key things he says helps kids get the most out of summer reading.
1. Give Kids a Wide Variety of Reading Materials
It’s best if children have access to both informational and narrative texts they’re interested in, such as a factual book about space (like The Sun Is Kind of a Big Deal) and the latest installment of a fictional series they love (like Dog Man or The Bad Guys).
“With summer reading, we want to help kids read for fun and understand that you should read just for the sake of reading itself, and not to do well on a test,” says Kim. “Access to a wide variety of books is really helpful in achieving that goal.”
2. Find Books at the Right Reading Level
Any books are helpful for boosting summer reading, but those that kids can easily understand are particularly important. “We wouldn’t want to give kids texts that are too hard, because in the summer, there’s no teacher available to provide support when they read,” says Kim.
You might try a trick called the five-finger rule. Ask your child to read a passage from a book (about 100 words is enough) and raise one finger for each word that is too difficult for them to read. If they have more than five fingers up, they may need a simpler book.
3. Talk About a Book’s Plot
During read-aloud time, make sure you talk and ask questions about what you’re reading. This helps boost children's reading comprehension skills.
“Sometimes that might be saying, ‘Tell me about your favorite part of the book,’” says Kim. StoryPlay Books are a great option for this — these sweet stories come with prompts and activities to help your child think critically about the plot.
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