As a parent, you've probably heard all about summer reading and its reported benefits: But how big of a difference does it really make? According to research, a pretty big one! A mere 20 minutes of reading per day can make a significant impact on your child’s academic skills, according to a classic University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study.
Not only is summer reading essential for preventing the summer slide, the decline of skills and knowledge that occurs when school is out, but it’s also a way for your child to learn more about the world and grow emotionally. Get even more out of summer reading by signing your child up for the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge: During this free, fun program, your kids can enter their reading minutes online to unlock exclusive digital rewards and donate books to kids in need across the nation. Ask your child's teacher, a local librarian, or a community partner organization (like a youth club) if they're participating so your child can join as part of a group — if not, you can sign your child up separately.
Here are the four major benefits kids of any age will get from joining the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge, whether they're reading independently or you're reading to them.
1. You'll get a ton of great new book recommendations.More than 40% of kids say they have trouble finding books that they like, and 28% of parents agree that their child has trouble finding books, according to the latest Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report. However, the biggest reading gains are made when your child selects her own reading material: The report also found that nearly nine in 10 kids say they’re more likely to finish a book they’ve picked out themselves. As part of the Challenge, you and your child will have access to curated summer book lists sorted by age, so she can pick out wonderful books that she loves.
Is your kid obsessed with all things tech? He'll be intrigued by A True Book: Designing a Game! Is he more into graphic novels? You won't be able to tear him away from The Bad Guys in Superbad. Let your child choose what he loves, and the pages will fly.
Here are your guides to amazing book picks by age from the Challenge:
2. Reading these books will teach your child about new worlds. When your child opens the pages of a Summer Reading Challenge book, she can instantly play Quidditch in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Illustrated Edition or scale the buildings of New York City in Miles Morales Spider-Man. According to the latest edition of the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, 40 percent of kids between the ages of 6 and 17 want books that help them explore new worlds, and 26 percent want books that introduce them to new topics.
As your child whisks through the books in the Summer Reading Challenge, he'll discover key moments in history, countries around the globe, and even fantasy universes that only exist in books. Whether kids are fighting demons with the fantasy book Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond: Game of Stars or flying with the young female pilots who took on Hitler's army in Night Witches, they’ll discover that unplugged adventures exist — and that reading can take them anywhere!
3. The Challenge will help stop the summer slide in its tracks. The 6th edition of the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report found that 80 percent of kids ages 6 to 17 and 96 percent of parents agree that reading books during the summer helps kids during the school year. “I really liked reading over the summer because now, in fifth grade, I have seen a change in my writing,” a 10-year-old girl from Texas told Scholastic. “I got better.”
A 2011 report from the RAND Corporation found that kids lose a month's worth of academic progress on average over the summer months, which can lead to academic difficulties in the fall. Reading as part of the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge can help keep kids on track, avoiding the need to relearn material upon their return to school.
4. Your child will be exposed to positive values and important life lessons. According to the latest Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, 36 percent of kids want characters they aspire to be like because they are smart, brave, or strong, while 30 percent want characters that face a challenge and overcome it. Hand your child a copy of Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome, based on the true story of teen activist and author Sarai Gonzalez, or surprise them with Hurricane Child, a tale that follows a young girl as she bravely perseveres through a hurricane to find her missing mother.
The effect these characters have on kids may be greater than you'd expect: The report also found that four in 10 kids say there has been a character, fictional or real, whose story has taught them a life lesson. The Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge books are filled with awe-worthy heroes, from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in American Girl: Real Stories From My Time: The March on Washington to world-famous education advocate Malala in She Dared: Malala Yousafzai!
See the full list of Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge books here (scroll down to "Resources"). You can also browse great selections from the Challenge at the Scholastic Store Online.
Want more book recommendations? Click here to sign up for our Scholastic Parents newsletter.