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Library Reading Programs Help Children Maintain Reading Skills During The Summer

Libraries around the state are beginning children’s summer reading programs to help prevent children’s literacy skills from regressing during the school break.  

“The Summer Slide” describes when literacy regression happens to children during their summer break

“Any child who fails to read independently during the summer months will typically experience summer reading loss. Research shows that children typically lose one to three months of learning during the summer and that loss can be compounded every year," said Cindy Jones, an associate professor of literacy instruction at Utah State University.

Summer reading loss especially impacts children who struggle with learning to read or who come from economically disadvantaged families.

“This summer loss actually accounts for about 80 percent of the reading achievement gap between more and less economically advantaged children," Jones said. "By the time both groups of children are nearing high school graduation, this reading achievement gap has been shown to be about a four year difference.”  

Both libraries and parents can play a role in helping combat this loss, Jones said, by providing children a variety of books and helping them select books on their level to read. Incentives provided by summer reading programs can also be helpful.

Kathleen Mohr is a professor of language and literacy development courses at USU.

“It’s helpful to expose children to different genres, to different authors, to different topics, so that they can acquire the language for those topics," Mohr said. "And in schools, teachers are responsible for that, but in the summer it’s helpful if librarians and parents say ‘Have you looked at this book? Have you tried this author? What do you know about this topic?'”

Encouraging children to have fun with reading and to look for things they can read and then do, like science experiments, recipes or crafts, are other ways parents can help in the summer, Mohr said.