Reading to Prevent the Summer Slide

young girl sitting outside with her dad reading a book

This post is part was written in collaboration with our FamilyWorks Together team.

Have you heard of the summer slide? It’s not the latest theme park attraction or a type of slip n’ slide, but it may be the most important slide out there when it comes to your child’s summer vacation.

Scholastic defines “summer slide” as the “loss of skills during the time when students are not in school.” Research shows that many students, especially from low-income families, return to school in the fall at a lower reading level than when they left for summer break. Data from a 2016 national study of parents with kids ages 0 – 17 showed that 21 percent of kids from low-income families didn’t read any books during the summer, compared to 8 percent of kids from high-income families.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to prevent the summer slide … and it doesn’t involve getting wet! Encouraging your child to read during the summer months can keep their skills sharp.

We know it’s not always that easy, though. Maybe your child doesn’t consider reading a fun summer activity. Or maybe your kid is a bookworm who has already breezed past the school’s list of assigned summer reading books and you’re out of ideas for what they should read next. In either case, see below for a list of our 10 favorite books that you can read together, as well as a way to motivate children to read during their summer break.

As you head into summer, just remember: Reading or listening can be a great way to get them engaged and help them discover the power of a good book (or audiobook). If they’re old enough to read on their own, just seeing you read may be enough encouragement for them to do the same. Head to the library and let them pick out books they’d like to read on the next rainy day, on that family road trip you’re taking or in a sleeping bag under the stars (flashlight required).

Some of Our Favorites

  1. The Book With No Pictures (Age 5+), by B. J. Novak
  2. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Age 6+), by Roald Dahl
  3. One Crazy Summer (Age 8+), by Rita Williams-Garcia
  4. Harry Potter Series (Age 8+), by J. K. Rowling (if you like British accents, check out the audiobook version!)
  5. The Crossover Series (Age 10+), by Kwame Alexander
  6. Half a World Away (Age 10+), by Cynthia Kadohata*
  7. Eighth-Grade Superzero (Age 11+), by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
  8. Finding Miracles (Age 12+), by Julia Alvarez*
  9. Wonder Woman: Warbringer – DC Icons Series (Age 12+), by Leigh Bardugo
  10. A Lite Too Bright (Age 13+), by Samuel Miller

*These books are extra near to our hearts since they’re about children in adoptive families!

Summer Reading Challenges

A fun way to get children reading during the summer is by appealing to their competitive nature. There are many national and local challenges you can choose from to help do this. Your child’s school might even have its own challenge that they can participate in.

Here are some other go-to places for summer reading challenges to get your child into summer reading:

  • Your local library, which likely has a number of age-appropriate summer reading programs
  • Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge (teachers or librarians can register kids for the challenge, which features free book lists, reading logs to track progress and even short animated book excerpts)
  • Barnes and Noble summer reading (read any eight books on their list and record them in a journal to win a free book)
  • Pizza Hut’s Book It! summer reading activities with Candlewick Press (free downloadable activity kits that correspond with kids’ books)
  • Brightly Summer Reading Challenge for Kids (printable list of 20 creative, interactive ways to engage your child in summer reading)
  • We Need Diverse Books Summer Reading Series (promoting books — and a world — in which “all children can see themselves in the pages of a book”)

How are you engaging your child in summer reading this year? What has worked for you in the past? Tell us in the comments below!

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