Thursday, June 3, 2010
With the school year ending, my thoughts naturally turn to summer reading. When my children were young, we always made a big deal about going to the library at the beginning of the summer and signing up for their summer reading program. This usually involved keeping track of all the books they read over the course of the next three months and in the end there was some sort of "reward," usually in the form of a book. We would also venture to our local bookstore so they could each pick out a couple of books to savor in the long, non-structured days that lay ahead.
What about those students who can't get to the library or afford to buy books? It's been reported that low-income students lose as much as three months of ground each summer to middle-income students. So I read with interest a June 2 article in USA Today about a free book program for low-income students in the summer that makes a lot of sense and may counteract this decline. An experimental program in seven states will be giving free books to thousands of low-income students, in the hopes of reducing this troublesome achievement gap.
Based upon a study that will be published later this year in Reading Psychology, Richard Allington, a reading researcher and his colleagues, went to 17 high poverty schools in Florida, and gave selected students twelve books (from a list the students chose) to read over the summer. They repeated this over the course of three summers, and at the end of the study found that those students who received the books had "significantly higher" reading scores and less of a "summer slide." So now the study will be replicated on a larger scale. It seems like a win-win situation if children are able to keep their reading up, as well as start their own library at home.
So what are some of the ways you encourage reading in your house? For some great ideas, here's an article from the Reading is Fundamental website, that offers some creative strategies for keeping reading fun during the summer. For as parents and teachers our goal is to ensure that our children love reading and become lifelong readers.