Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Avoid The Summer Reading Blues

Now that the summer is here, children around the country will take about 10 weeks off from school.  Many will go on vacation, engage in new experiences, and just relax.  But millions of kids will also fall behind in reading and start the next school year at a deficit.  There are many ways to keep our nation’s youth engaged in reading and it will take the effort of parents, libraries, schools, government agencies, community non-profits, and educators to ensure our children grow as readers.

The National Summer Learning Association has identified the problem – low-income students lose several months of reading during the hottest part of the year while higher-income families’ kids actually make small gains.

There are all kinds of things attached to low-income families –

·         Many low-income families lack educated parents, thus the parents can’t teach what they don’t know.
·        Uneducated parents may not be a strong motivator at home and likely is working longer hours and not at home often enough to engage the reading process with their kids.
·         Low-income means fewer books will be purchased by that household.
·         It also means a greater dependency on using libraries, some of which may not be accessible due to a lack of transit.
·         Low-income may also involve immigrant homes where English is not the first language, making it harder to read to their kids.

Of course, it’s not just about money and parental abilities or involvement that influences summer reading for a child.  It also comes down to values: Are parents encouraging reading and stressing it’s fun and important?

The summer becomes a lazier time, one in which we engage the outdoors and physical activities and then slump on a beach, backyard hammock, or city park bench.  But such a lifestyle is not mutually exclusive of learning.  Encouraging kids to read, do puzzles, or go through a workbook is vital to a child’s development.

By fifth grade, after five or six summers, the equivalent of over a year of reading is lost, and if that time wasn’t used to read and learn a child is at risk of falling too far behind.

Community book mobiles are one of many resources to help encourage young readers.  Creating a community of readers who treasure life-long reading habits is so important. Learning never ceases – and it certainly shouldn’t go on pause just because school is out.

Scholastic has a nice program, the Summer Reading Challenge. This year’s theme is “Be A Reading Superhero.”  The program’s Summer Reading Global Ambassador is Dan Pikey, the author-illustrator creator of Captain Underpants.

Former U.S. national ambassador for children’s literature, Kate DiCamillo, was named National Summer Reading Champion last year by the Collaborative Summer Library Program, and she is helping inspire kids to read.  CSLP is a consortium of state libraries and systems totaling 15,000.  It provides members with a unified summer reading theme and gives art supplies and supportive materials.

You can find out how you can do more to help kids embrace books this summer by going to   You can start by celebrating National Summer Learning Day on July 14.  

We can build a better world, one book and one child at a time.  The summer is an important time in the development of the next generation – be a part of their reading experience.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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