May 24, 2019

Mini-Musings- Summer Reading

by Heather Novotny

Wherever your summer takes you, always bring a book.

My favorite summer memory: sitting in the shallow end of a backyard swimming pool, reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to my son and his friends. I think they were seven or eight, and we had planned to spend the day in a friend’s backyard pool. I threw the book in our swim bag at the last minute, thinking if the kids got bored I might read aloud for a few minutes. I got bored first, so settled myself in the shallow end of the pool and began to read aloud. My mom friends were skeptical, and so was I, but to my delight, our loud, raucous boys all began to swim toward me. They settled close, and I read until my voice gave out. It was magic.

Summer reading is all about fun--but independent, free choice reading carries clear educational benefits. Summer learning loss, also known as the “summer slump” and the “summer slide,” is well documented. Fortunately, studies show that reading for fun over the summer, as well as participating in informal educational opportunities like summer camps and museum visits, is enough to prevent summer learning loss. I encourage families to participate in their public library’s free summer reading program--it’s a great way to stay motivated and keep your kids reading.

These three factors build engaged readers:
• Choice: kids read more when they choose their own books. Take your kid to the library or bookstore with you or bring home a variety of books for them to choose from. Include graphic novels and non-fiction. Lots of kids who don’t self-identify as readers simply have a preference for a different format. Nothing engages reluctant readers like graphic novels.
• Access: students who are surrounded with books read more. Create a rich home reading environment and bring books along when you travel.
• Culture: kids who see grownups read know that reading is enjoyable, valuable, and fun. Never feel guilty for picking up your own summer book--it sets a powerful example.

Resources to help you find great books
• McGillis School Summer Fun Booklists
ALSC Summer Booklists
Salt Lake County booklists
The City Library booklists
Research:
California Summer Reading Program: Value of Summer Reading
Salt Lake County Library study
CLSP Summer Reading White Paper