Why Summer Reading Matters

When you think about summer, what comes to mind? The long awaited family vacation? A great cookout on a hot July day? Spending time by the pool a couple of times a week? While these are all worthwhile summer activities, I have one more activity that I’d like to add to your summer list – reading!

 Tiffany L. Bridgewater. Courtesy photo

Tiffany L. Bridgewater. Courtesy photo

Reading every day is vital for school-age children because it gives them opportunities to develop word recognition, comprehension and fluency simultaneously. According to a report by the National Institute of Education (NIE), a key predictor of positive reading development for young children is success when learning to read (1988). The report also suggests numerous opportunities and experiences with reading can lead to overall reading success in young children (1988). For early readers, developing strong comprehension and fluency skills is often challenging because they are also being asked to explain their thoughts about the reading in conjunction with the world around them. Because reading is developmental, it is important to remember the amount of reading done outside of school is just as important as the amount of reading done during the academic school day. Ultimately, reading done outside of school is consistently related to gains in reading achievement for young readers hence the importance during the summer according to the NIE report (1988). Current research continues to support the best practice of students reading every day, reading during the academic year as well as during the summer.

For many parents, working with your child to find something really good to read during the summer can be a major highlight as well as a major challenge. As you begin to think about the best books for your son or daughter to read this summer, here are a few hints that might help make reading an engaging and fun activity for your child and the entire family:

Get to know your local librarian
Talking to your local librarian is a good way to help your child find “just right books” (especially leveled readers for students in Kindergarten through third grade).

Build reading time into your plans for the summer
This way you can help students keep up with a “reading” routine. Make a commitment for at least 15-20 minutes a day during the summer.

Make reading interactive
Whether you are reading or your child is doing the reading, make sure you talk about the story together. Reading does not have to be a solo activity.

Make reading fun
The goal during the summer is to keep children reading. Do not push if your child resists reading a specific genre. Use the summer to explore different kinds of books.

Visit your local library
Your local library is a great resource and a wonderful, relaxing place for you and your child to read. There are free programs at the Louisville Free Public Library through August 6. Programs are open to children – newborn through 12th grade – at all 18 library locations. Parents can obtain more information at lfpl.org/summerreading.

Additional reading resources
There are many resources for parents and educators to use during the summer like Scholastic Books, scholastic.com/parents; Reading Rockets, readingrockets.org/calendar/summer; PBS Launching Readers, pbs.org/launchingreaders; Barnes & Noble, barnesandnoble.com; and Amazon, amazon.com.

The most important tip for parents during the summer regarding reading is to read, read, read! VT

By Tiffany L. Bridgewater,
Head of Lower School, Louisville Collegiate School