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Preventing The "Summer Slide"

Summer is fast approaching, and students are looking forward to a break from school: swimming, camping, riding bikes, vacationing, and enjoying the sunshine. Unfortunately, reading is not on most children’s summer to-do list, and many parents don’t enforce summer reading. This can lead to what researchers call the “Summer Slide.”

Several major studies have shown that children who don’t read during the summer experience a measurable drop in reading and learning ability before school resumes in the fall.


According to Richard Allington of the University of Tennessee, “What we know is that children who do not read in the summer lose two to three months of reading development while kids who do read tend to gain a month of reading proficiency. This creates a three to four month gap every year. Every two or three years the kids who don’t read in the summer fall a year behind the kids who do.”

Researchers have also concluded that these losses are cumulative and can result in up to a two-year gap in reading ability between children who read in the summer and those who don’t. Schools also have to spend significant time in the fall catching up on what students have forgotten over the summer.


Children who read four or more books at their reading level over the summer perform substantially better in the fall than their peers who don’t read. It has been shown that children who read 10-20 books over the summer actually improve their reading skills.

People are reading less than ever, and after grade three, reading frequency begins to decrease and continues to decrease through the teenage years. Children who are encouraged to read over the summer will do better in school and learn to become lifelong readers.

Remember: Quantity beats quality. Don’t worry about making sure the children read “good” books, just make sure they are reading!


Summer Reading Ideas:

  • Make sure children have access to books in the home and encourage them to read for 30 minutes a day.
  • Take advantage of the school's OverDrive program to access ebooks and audio books.
  • Instead of watching movies on long trips, listen to audio books. These are available through Overdrive and through the public library.
  • Find a high interest book and read the first few chapters to them. Get the child interested so they want to finish it on their own.
  • Allow children to choose their own reading material. They are more likely to read and benefit from a book of their choice than one that they are forced to read.
  • Take part in the summer reading program provided by the public library.
  • Get a public library card and take your children to the library weekly.
  • Ask children about what they are reading and be ready to share what you are reading with them.
  • Read the same books as your children so you can discuss them together.
  • Let your children see you reading and read to your children.
  • Tie the books your children read to summer outings. (e.g. If you go to the zoo, find a book about their favourite animals.)

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