Importance of Summer Reading
“Do Kids Get "Dumber in the Summer?"
Well, that’s one old education axiom. Research shows we all tend to learn more slowly in the summer. But some students do worse than simply slow down – they actually go into reverse and lose most of the reading skills they gained during the school year.
Children who don’t read over the summer tend to lose literacy skills while children who do read during the summer actually improve their reading ability. Summer learning losses accumulate over several years and are an important contributor to the achievement gap.
- Making the Case for Library Services to Children and Teens, State Library of North Carolina. The number of books read during the summer is consistently related to academic gains. Children in every income group who read six or more books over the summer gained more in reading achievement than children who did not. The use of the public library during the summer is more predictive of vocabulary gains than attending summer school is.
- Krashen, Stephen. The Power of Reading. Libraries Unlimited. 1993. "More than any other public institution, including the schools, the public library contributed to the intellectual growth of children during the summer. Moreover, unlike summer school programs, the library was used by over half the sample and attracted children from diverse backgrounds." (p.77)
- If children read one million words a year, at least one thousand words will be added to their vocabulary. (One study found this could easily be accomplished by letting children and teens read any format reading material they wanted, including comic books and teen romances.) (That’s an average of 2,868 words per day!)
Children’s librarians are super heroes in the war on illiteracy when we consider what we do every summer – usually with little time or money. Sometimes, buried in an “avalanche of overload”, we can lose sight of the big picture of just what we accomplish.
The State Library of Iowa hopes these Summer Reading workshops we plan, fund, and bring around the state every year help energize you, offer useful ideas, an occasional inspiration, and the reminder that there are a lot of us who care about kids and reading and libraries.