Teachers call it the “summer slide”: three months without reinforcement can cause kids to forget key reading skills they picked up over the course of the school year. That’s why summer reading is so important, and you want to do everything you can to encourage kids to pick up a book every chance they get!
The key is to ensure that they consider reading to be fun, not work – a way to indulge their curiosity and immerse themselves in imaginary worlds. Studies show that while summer reading has proven benefits, it only really works if kids are reading for pleasure.
A quick scan through this year’s reading lists indicates that educators have really wised up in terms of recommendations: most of the lists I found leaned towards hip, contemporary books that look irresistible to reluctant readers. You’ll find some of the familiar names here and there, but there are some surprising choices that kids are going to love. For instance, the Boston Latin Academy’s list for high school kids includes some dreary old chestnuts like The Sun Also Rises and A Separate Peace, but it also includes unique, fun, and thoughtful choices like The Glass Castle, Lies My Teacher Told Me, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. (They’re going to have a much more fun summer than I did the year I had to read The Fountainhead.)
And then there are reading programs: the Scholastic Power Up & Read program is a great way to engage a kid who loves competition. This free program looks like a lot of fun for kids who are bent on achievement, since they can work towards a world reading record, compete against other schools, and win prizes. The Scholastic reading list is fun, modern, and irreverent, and tosses in a bunch of nonfiction to engage kids who are more interested in facts than stories.
The web element of this program is pretty great, too – as kids reach milestones every week, they can unlock original short stories from popular authors, each beginning “I glanced over my shoulder to make sure that no one followed me into the library, then took a deep breath and opened the glowing book…” I bet if you get your child to compete against their best friend to unlock each story first, you’ll be making a lot more trips to the library this summer!
Here are a few more summer reading lists and programs to check out:
- Boston Public Schools lists
- American Library Association lists (complete with synopses!)
- Imagination Soup lists, plus tips to get kids reading
- Sylvan Learning’s Book Adventure (this one rewards kids for taking online quizzes on the books with assorted prizes!)
- Lots more reading programs