For the past month, everyone in our school communities has been focused on preventing summer slide — the two to three months of learning that kids lose during summer. CEO Eva Moskowitz used graduation to remind scholars to keep reading; parents signed up for public library cards; teachers inspired scholars with great book talks.
But we don’t want to just prevent summer slide; we want to reverse it. We want to achieve Summer Soar. Studies show that children who read copiously during the summer can return to school better readers than when they left, scoring higher on reading assessments. It’s not just about maintaining reading skills, it’s about building a summer of rich reading experiences that will become lifelong memories for kids.
Over the course of the summer, I’ll post some ideas about how parents can help their children achieve Summer Soar. Let’s start with these suggestions:
Make Reading Part of Every Summer Pleasure
Going to an amusement park? Visiting grandma? Heading to the beach, or up to your own rooftop tar beach? There’s a book for that.
These summer pleasures may seem simple to grownups, but they’re big adventures for kids — and they’re often the memories that children will carry with them into adulthood. Reading about a place or an experience beforehand can build excitement, calm doubts and fears, and provide an opportunity to ask questions so children are not overwhelmed. It can supply ideas and conversation starters. For example: “Remember how Eric listened to music with his grandma in Grandma’s Records? Let’s ask grandma to play some of her favorite music for us.” Or: “In Beach, the author talks about people who jump right into the ocean and people who “wade in an inch…at…a…time. Who do you think you’ll be?” Then, after you get back home, you and your child can read the book again to discuss how your family’s experience compared to what you read and what you anticipated. Was it the same, or was it different? Incorporating book talk into summer adventures helps kids fall more deeply in love with reading, develop their conversation skills, and remember these experiences.
Relive Adventures Through Writing
Many families have developed the habit of reading for pleasure, but I’d wager that fewer have developed the habit of writing for pleasure. Writing about their summer adventures, large and small, gives kids a creative outlet, and an additional way to express themselves, as well as providing an opportunity for writing practice. It can take the form of a traditional journal, letters to a friend or relative, or a book the child writes and illustrates. In my experience, a diary with a little lock and key is very appealing to 7- to 9-year-olds. Ask a friend or relative in advance if they will be your child’s pen pal, so your child has a good reason to keep writing. Email is good, but sending and receiving old-fashioned snail mail is such fun for kids. Consider purchasing a couple of bound blank books (sold at bookstores and craft stores) so kids can write and illustrate keepsakes.
A list of recommended summer adventure books is below. But there are tons of options. Ask your local librarian or bookseller. Stay tuned for more ideas on achieving Summer Soar!
Click here to download the list!