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Get kids reading to avoid the ‘summer slide’


While almost all parents — 94% — know that summer reading can help their child during the school year, 47% of them are unaware of “summer slide,” the catchy term for the loss of academic skills that occurs when school is not in session, according to Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report.

Summer slide is largely attributed to a lack of reading, said Deimosa Webber-Bey, senior librarian and manager of the Scholastic library and archive.

Let’s face it, kids have plenty of options — from smartphones to swimming pools — competing for their attention, but summer is an opportunity for families to encourage a love of reading and to enjoy the activity together.

Twenty percent of kids reported not reading any books at all over summer, the report found. This is especially distressing because the effects of summer slide are cumulative, Webber-Bey said: Researchers estimate that by the time a struggling reader reaches middle school, summer reading loss adds up to a two-year lag in reading achievement.

Without keeping up academic skills over the summer children will lose things that they have learned, Webber-Bey said.

“It’s a skill just like a sport or art. You have to continue to practice what you’ve learned,” Webber-Bey said. “Reading over the summer helps reinforce vocabulary and comprehension skills. It helps children make connections: text-to-text, text-to-self and text-to-world.”

To help get books in the hands of children and keep kids reading, Scholastic launched the Summer Read-A-Palooza, which continues through Sept. 6. Visit scholastic.com/readapalooza to enter summer reading minutes online and earn digital rewards. Plus, there are book excerpts, videos and summer exclusive content.

Kids participating in the summer reading challenge are not only helping themselves academically, they will also be helping kids in need. As children build up minutes read that time “unlocks” book donations to kids in need across the country. In collaboration with United Way, Scholastic is giving away at least 200,000 books to kids across the country.

Parents hoping to encourage children to read should focus on minutes read rather than pages, Webber-Bey said. There’s no specific number of minutes families should aim for, though.

Instead, the goal should be to make reading a daily activity.

“Make reading a habit. Every day you should be reading,” Webber-Bey said.

And format doesn’t matter, Webber-Bey said. The top reason kids enjoy summer reading is the power to read whatever and whenever they want, the Kids & Family Reading Report found. Kids should be able to choose what they want to read, whether that’s fiction or nonfiction, graphic novels, comic books, audiobooks or various genres.

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