Top 5 Ways to Prevent Rusty Summer Readers

With summer vacation started or on its way, as parents or guardians, it’s important to ensure that reading remains on your child’s schedule even while school is out. Reading over the summer is important not only because it improves literacy and language skills, but also because it prevents what has become known as the “summer slide”—a regression in reading ability.

A student reads a bookStudies show that children who don’t read or who read rarely over the summer encounter a stagnation or decline in their reading skills.

With that in mind, here are five of the best ways to keep your child reading this summer:

  1. Let your child choose what they want to read – or be read to – for 30 minutes each day. Children are much more likely to engage in material that interests them rather than materials that are forced on them.
  2. Use language and reading opportunities throughout the day.  Talk often with your child and point out reading materials wherever possible:  on menus, magazines and newspapers, signs, brochures, maps, guidebooks, smartphones, ipads, etc.
  3. Make daily reading a social event. Get the whole family to join in with their own books or take turns reading the same book aloud. Include telling stories as well.
  4. Connect reading to other summer events. If you take your child to the zoo, think about reading a book about animals before and afterward. This will place your child’s reading within a larger context.
  5. Make reading a lifestyle choice. Keep books all around the house to cultivate an atmosphere of reading, and set an example by reading yourself. Children need good models of reading books, magazines, or newspapers.

Madison Killen is a student at the University of California Berkeley and an intern in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach


  1. Many times adults are critical about teens hanging out. It is the adults fault. Teens today are so confused the language is being dissected. Many adults can not control their own tongues. The language is full of cuss words. I was at a community board meeting and one woman said a.. hole making a comment! This was disgusting especially the topic was a complaint about teens hanging out and causing trouble! Give YOUTH HAPPINESS! Adults must act to get the youth’s respect! Children are mirrors of adults! Adults must rediscover the goal to gain understanding!
    Local parks close too early in the summertime! They are safe for teens. If the local parks were open till 10pm during the summer. Kids would play ball, be in a place they can take ownership of a common ground, they can be watched and everyone be happy!
    Today the focus is NOT about education and peace. It is about Money and violence for power! Sad but true! We (Educators taking the lead) protect our future. Promote literacy in adult entertainment! Do not scare minors!
    Focus on our youth being problem solvers NOT A PROBLEM! Media, children must be given happiness, a focus or their rightfule place not dangers made by adults!

  2. As a mother and teacher, I agree that spending time with your child over the summer in enriching activities and taking trips whenever possible is optimum, and is also great for bonding with your kids. However, there are many who cannot to do these things, lacking the monetary resources and/or time. Don’t forget the local library and the many resources they can offer. Currently, there are some wonderful digital book programs such as myON reader from Capstone Digital that provides kids with their choice of over 2,500 books for kids from pre-K to 8th grade that can be read anywhere there is internet access.

  3. Perhaps we need to reconsider the summer vacation and recognize that we’re no longer an agrarian society. The summer vacation is outdated and completely irrelevant in this day and age. If educators really had the best interests of the students in mind, they’d be asking different questions.

    • There are two other things to consider on the other side of the summer vacation issue though. One is that summer is a time when teachers can (and often do) get trained in instructional methodologies as part of their required licensure continuing education, which has great benefits in the classroom as teachers are able to apply the most current learning research in their pedagogy. They also spend summers developing the curricula and engaging in articulation with other teachers to ensure consistency across the levels and from one level to the next. (I did all these things during my summer break, as well as professionally developing my proficiency in my subject area. I also did these things while working another full-time hourly summer job, since my teacher salary did not cover the summer months.)

      Second, and more important, summer is a time for students to have real-world experiences in which they can apply the knowledge they have acquired in a classroom. My son’s summer vacation is a time for him to learn and discover and grow in the ways HE is interested in learning. Just because classroom instruction ends doesn’t mean learning does. If there’s anything that frustrates me, it’s that parents don’t take advantage of the tool of summer vacation to expose their children to experiences that are impossible for them to have in a classroom–farmer’s markets, cooking, trips to a farm, music camps or concerts, art projects of all kinds, trips to the store to learn firsthand about budgeting and taxation, or trips to historical landmarks or even other countries. And yes, many parents work full-time, but you can do these things with your children and have a full-time job. Teachers are trained to teach in a classroom because they must teach as efficiently as possible; but parents can and should teach their kids all kinds of things every day.

      • I completely agree with Melissa. I also think it is important that parents take a role in the education of their child. While not every parent is able or willing to do this, not all learning must take place in a classroom setting, and it must not always be led by teachers. The ideas suggested above are a realistic way for parents to help with the education of their child. Parents and teachers need to work together. Anything less in unacceptable.

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