Summer Reading: The only summer slide should be into the swimming pool!

posted on May 17, 2017 by Eve Panzer

The days are getting longer and the temperature is rising as we approach the summer season. We all know that during the summer break students’ academic skills can atrophy.

By keeping-up with reading, this summer slide can be easily prevented. We just need to make sure that children read during the summer months!

This is easier said than done and it is often a daunting task for parents. As teachers and librarians, I feel that it is it is our obligation to share with parents some tools and guidelines to help them be successful in having their children to read during the summer.

In the article How to Make Summer Reading Effective published by the National Summer Learning Association there is a wealth of information, some of which I will share with you in this blog post.

There are four components necessary to make summer reading pay off:

  1. Access to a wide variety of books.
  2. Books that are on the reading level of the child.
  3. Books that are of interest to the child.
  4. Children should be able to comprehend what they have read.

For most parents, access is the easiest component – there are local libraries and thrift stores that carry books are reasonable prices. But access to books alone for children who are not yet fluent readers will not help children maintain their reading skills during the summer. The other components – reading level, interest and comprehension – are essential too. And this is where we can help parents be successful.

To assess whether a book is on the child’s reading level, parents can use an easy measure called the five-finger rule:

  • Parents can have their child read the first page (or first 100 words) of a book. Every time they reach a word they do not understand, they should raise a finger.
  • If they raise 5 fingers after reading the first 100 words, the book is probably above their reading level.

That said, it is almost of more importance that the book be of interest to the child. I am all for having a child read on their level so that they do not get frustrated or slip back in reading levels. However, if the book is of no interest to the child, the book will not get read.

If there is a book of interest to the child that is a bit above – or below – the child’s reading level, I think they should have the opportunity to read it (or try to read it). But generally, the child should be given as many books that are matching their reading level as possible.

Perhaps the most important element is that children comprehend what they read. Most children below the fifth or sixth grade cannot assess their own reading comprehension. But parents can easily help their children do this.

The following are simple ways for parents to accomplish this:

  • Read the book with their child.
  • Have their child summarize the book.
  • Ask their child questions about the book.
  • Let their children ask questions about the book.
  • Have their child reread parts of the book which are appear challenging and discuss it with their child.

Finding good books may be another challenge for parents. So this month, instead of posting a review, I will provide some resources for quality books for you to share with your parents. See the blog post on summer reading resources.

This will be my last blog post for the school year. I will return in August. I will continue to offer my Barefoot Librarian services to you to find just the right variety of books. Have a great summer and happy reading!

Raves & Praise from educators and readers about Eve Panzer, the Barefoot Librarian:

Eve Panzer has displayed her wonderful books at several of our Early Childhood events. Our teachers are always excited to see the age appropriate materials she provides.

-Jacquie Porter, Early Childhood Director, Austin ISD