Read Every Day (Even in Summertime), Lead a Better Life

May 07, 2013
“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them,” says Lemony Snicket, the harassed—and hilarious—narrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events and Horseradish. We hope that your students will follow Snicket’s advice as they head off for summer vacation. Whether their interests lie with snakes, spiders, or the supernatural, if kids read they won’t have to leave the house to find adventure. As Donalyn Miller observes in The Book Whisperer: “Readers lead richer lives, more lives, than those who don’t read.” Captain Underpants creator Dav Pilkey agrees. Avid young readers also tend to be more successful later in life. “Reading—whether Wikipedia, Michael Lewis, or Aristotle—is one of the quickest ways to acquire and assimilate new information,” says John Coleman, author of Passion & Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders. “Leaders who can sample insights in other fields, such as sociology, the physical sciences, economics, or psychology, and apply them to their organizations are more likely to innovate and prosper.” Encouraging news, right? Unfortunately, “reading has declined among every group of adult Americans,” according to the National Endowment for the Arts. For the first time in American history, “less than half of the U.S. adult population is reading literature.” Why does this matter? As Miller told us recently, if we want to create a generation of readers, “they need to see people reading, including parents. They need to understand what a literate life looks like.” Children who benefit from rich classroom instruction and lots of reading time during the school year, Miller adds, often lose ground during the summer—with dire consequences. Consider these statistics: Learning losses during the summer months are cumulative. By the time a struggling reader reaches middle school, summer reading loss results in a two-year lag in reading achievement. The “Summer Slide” accounts for as much as 85 percent of the reading achievement gap between lower-income students and their middle- and upper-income peers. Third graders who can’t read on grade level are four times less likely to graduate by age 18 than proficient readers. The 2013 Scholastic Summer Challenge, a free reading program designed to help stop the “Summer Slide,” is a great way to motivate kids to read—and exercise their math muscles at the same time. Last year, kids set a new world record of 95,859,491 minutes read. Make sure your kids will be ready for back-to-school—and the demands of the Common Core State Standards. You’ll find lots of great resources on our Summer Challenge site, including book recommendations, a reading pledge, and weekly chances to win prizes. At the end of the summer, the school with the most minutes logged will win a visit from author Dav Pilkey. Want to be a winner? Ask your students: “Have you read your UNDERPANTS today?”