When kids stop reading, they lose some of what they learned over the school year. Known as the “summer slide” or “summer effect,” learning loss is a real phenomenon in which students can lose up to a month of knowledge during the summer. The long summer vacation breaks the rhythm of instruction, leads to forgetting and requires a significant amount of review when students return to school in the fall.
However, the summer effect can be avoided by ensuring children are as engaged as possible in whatever they choose to read — just as long as they’re reading every day. Here are some ways to keep them interested:
• Encourage your children to read books they enjoy. They are more likely to finish books they pick rather than ones forced on them.
• Make reading a social act. Establish a time during the day when all members of the family gather and read on their own.
• Connect your reading to family outings. For example, if you are going to a park, read about birds, plants, forests and small animals that you might see there.
• Provide incentives. If kids do their daily reading, take them out for a swim or baseball game or any other activity they like.
Another way to prevent your children from becoming rusty readers is joining the summer reading club (SRC) at your local library. This is a free literacy program aimed at getting kids up to Grade 7 to engage with libraries and reading. The libraries also have adult and teen reading clubs during the summer so the entire family can read together. SRC helps kids and teens read and learn all summer long, linking fun with maintaining skills.
There is something for everyone at your local library. Reading fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels or even magazines enhances your skills and, surprisingly, so does listening to audiobooks. However, despite the wealth of information on the internet, spending time online does not count as reading.
Keep reading fun and interesting by giving your children the opportunity to choose the books on their own. Reading is a necessity but it should also be fun.
Minakshi Sidhu is supervisor and community librarian at the George Mackie Library.