STOP THE SUMMER SLIDE: Love Stories & Read Aloud

STOP THE SUMMER SLIDE: Love Stories & Read Aloud

{ I wrote this post a year ago- before the pandemic, before the quarantine, before kids couldn’t attend school. Now, more than ever, kids need time to read. The Summer Slide – the loss of reading ability is real for struggling readers. Please consider some of the following ways to help your kids continue learning over the next few months. Here’s hoping schools reopen in September. }

Many parents want their kids to take a break from academics over the summer. They’ve worked hard all school year so it’s time to hit pause when it comes to books & reading. I didn’t want my daughter sitting at a desk completing worksheets either, but not having our kids read could be sending a negative message, even if it’s unintended:

Books are a chore.
Reading is hard.
Reading isn’t fun.
Time spent doing ‘school work’ is boring.

Why a Break is Not a Good Thing

Reading during the summer is so important for our kids because it helps them develop leisure-time reading habits, reinforces reading skills, and prepares them for instruction in the upcoming school year.
The value of time spent reading cannot be underestimated. Numerous studies have shown that the best way for students to become better readers is to READ! This includes reading for fun.

The Summer Slide

Teachers are very familiar with the idea of summer setback, or what we call, “The summer slide”. This is when students regress one or more reading levels over the summer. Many times, students return to school in the fall & are assessed far below their spring reading levels. This is most likely due to the fact that students are not spending time reading over the summer.

Think of it this way, you don’t use it- you lose it.

Instead of Losing it!



Instead of putting books aside this summer, how about some simple ideas to promote reading at home:

1. Mom & Dad Read: Your children need to see you reading & enjoying it. It doesn’t matter what you read.  It could be a magazine, the newspaper (people still read it, right?) or a book. Reading online doesn’t do much to promote the love of reading as your child probably thinks you’re playing a game or answering email. The power here comes from you explicitly demonstrating that books are fun & worth the time.

2. Love Stories, Daily: Read to your child every day, but let your child pick the books. Choice is what makes the difference! My daughter picked Madeline time after time- so many times that I can still recite the entire book & she’s finished with college! Continue with the meaningful family ritual even when your children can read to themselves. It’s the sharing of wonderful stories with rich vocabulary that make this time together special & one they will never forget.

3. Background Knowledge & Vocabulary: Before reading a book together, you should skim through it looking for unknown vocabulary that my throw your child’s understanding & enjoyment of the story. Before you read aloud, simply mention 2-5 unknown words fairly quickly. For example, when reading aloud We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, by Ryan T. Higgins, you may want to point out these words: T Rex, recess, & lonely. “A T Rex was a fierce dinosaur.” “Recess is time during the school day when everyone plays or takes a break.” “Feeling lonely is when you feel as though you have no friends.” Done! Now read aloud the book & have fun with it!

4. No Worksheets, No Fun, No Learning: Worksheets (kill & drill) or book reports may help some kids practice a skill or two, but have no place at home- especially during the summer. There is no faster way to put out the reading fire than to have read a wonderful book, such as A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle, & then turn it into a lesson. Not only is this beyond boring, but worksheets do not teach! Repeat after me, worksheets do not teach!

5. High School Kids: When it comes to older kids, how about the two of you reading the same book at the same time? You could then sit outside & talk about it for a few minutes each night. My daughter & I read almost every Harry Potter book this way- all 7 of them. We had so many terrific memories together that last year we went to Harry Potter World on a vacation together! (She’s in her 20’s!)

6. Tons of Books: A house with lots of books in it is an open invitation into the world of literacy & the love of reading. I cannot imagine anyone not providing this for their children. You do not have to buy all of them, but it is important for kids to own books. Purchase at least one for every birthday & holiday. Weekly visits to the library are something most everyone can afford. I still remember my Mother taking my brother & sister & I to the Irvington Library every week in the summer. With the big fan humming in the corner, we listened to exciting stories read by the librarian & then picked out stacks of books. The time spent with my Mom & siblings is one I still treasure.

Do You Suspect It’s Something Else?



You know your child & you know when something isn’t quite right. Does your child hate to read? Is homework a struggle & takes forever to complete? After reading something, does your child have no idea what she read?

If something is getting in the way of your child loving to read, speak to the teacher-now- & then speak to a certified Reading Specialist. This is a teacher with a Master’s degree in Reading. If there are reading issues, you do not need a tutor, you need an interventionist– a teacher with lots of years’ experience teaching children to read, diagnosing reading issues, & remediating them successfully.

The Wait-and-See Approach

There is no time to waste. Time doesn’t help a struggling reader. It leaves him to struggle & hate reading & writing. It leaves him to fall further & further behind. In some cases, the summer slide accounts for up to two-thirds of the achievement gap between children in the same grade level. Contact me if you need help deciding what to do.


How do you make books & reading fun in your house or classroom? Share your ideas below!

{Teachers, you may want to share this blog post with your parents. Even a few weeks of reading has benefits!}