Finally. Summer is here. But taking a “break” from learning during the summer months is hazardous to a student’s education. According to the National Summer Learning Association more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning activities. Summer reading loss is cumulative. Children simply don’t “catch up” in fall when they return to school. Their classmates who read over the summer are moving ahead with their skills. By the end of 6th grade children who lose reading skills over the summer are two years behind their classmates. Here, in no particular order, are eleven tips for grown ups to help kids stay on the path to success over the summer months:
1. Take advantage of our fabulous public library! Visit the library often and let kids pick out their own books. They are the best experts about what they like. Studies have shown that students who read recreationally out-performed those who don’t. Students read more when they can choose materials based on their own interests.
2. Make sure they (and you!) sign up for the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Summer Reading Program.
3. Check out the “Kids & Parents” section of the Kalamazoo Public Library’s website, which features great tips for parents and caregivers, upcoming events, as well as staff picks for books for both parents and kids.
4. Be a reading role model.
5. Read as a family.
6. Talk to kids about what they are reading and what you are reading.
7. At a loss for what to read? Check out what KPL staff are reading and recommending. I also adore The Cyberlibrarian Reads, which is a blog by a retired librarian, lifelong reader, and local Kalamazoo resident, Miriam Downey. You can also check out this fascinating list of titles on the TED blog to see what Bill and Melinda Gates and others are reading this summer. After looking it over, I think I’m going to read one of Clay Shirky’s picks, “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” by Danah Boyd.
8. Visit the Bookbug, an independent bookstore located at Oakwood Plaza. Stop down on any Thursday at 10am for Storytime, Songs and Activities.
9. Let your child read their way to a free book. Stop by Barnes & Noble and pick up one of their summer reading sheets. Children read eight books (they don’t have to be purchased from Barnes & Noble) and then return with the completed sheet to choose a free book.
10. Last June, Julie Mack shared five strategies Superintendent Michael Rice suggests parents adopt to help build their child’s reading skills over the summer. Refresh your memory and read it here.
11. Tune in every Tuesday and read the latest post at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids!