Do you believe that summer reading helps or harms a child’s desire to read?
This is a debate going on at schools across the nation, and both sides make some strong points. Even though my school does assign reading, we discuss its purpose each year as the school year draws to a close.There are many factors to consider, including how to choose a book that the majority of students will enjoy, whether to direct the students to a list of books or assign one for the entire group, whether to include a writing element, and finally, whether to assign reading over the summer at all.
The biggest argument for assigning reading is to avoid the dreaded “summer slide.” Students who read over the summer are less likely to lose the skills they have worked so hard to gain during the school year. The benefits of keeping these skills sharp will affect their school year and allow them to move forward rather than spend the first months of the school year working back up to their previous level. According to the Department of Education, “numerous studies indicate that students who don’t read or read infrequently during their summer vacation see their reading abilities stagnate or decline.” We can all agree that this should be avoided. The real question is about whether assigning summer reading is the best way to keep students reading.
If your school does assign reading, here are some tips to help your child complete his or her assignment:
- You can read with your child! Take turns reading aloud to one another. (You’ll be able to discuss the book together as well.)
- Have your child read his or her book to a beloved (and patient) pet, or even a favorite stuffed animal. (Reading to a pet helps your child gain confidence.)
- Buy the book on tape and play it while your child reads along with the recording. (Hearing books read by professional actors can help your child develop fluency.)
- Designate a special reading time each day to make sure they are working through the book consistently. (It’s hard to pick up a book again after missing a few days.)
- Ask your child to act out a scene from their book, or summarize their reading for you each day. (This will help your child improve comprehension as well as memory.)
Everyone shares the goal of helping students enjoy reading for pleasure, so the most important goal is to help your child enjoy their book. If your child is struggling with a book, check to see if another book on the list looks more interesting. Contact the school or teacher and suggest an alternate book (even if it is not on the list) that is more interesting to your child. If there is a particular book that is necessary to the teacher’s curriculum, use the strategies above to help your child complete the assigned book, then help your child also choose another book that they will enjoy more.
Whether you are for or against summer reading as a concept, please keep the ultimate goal in mind. We all want children to love to read, and sometimes making that happen takes a bit of creative intervention!