Summer reading and the Summer slide

The long school holidays are around the corner.

The latest issue of Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report was published earlier this year. The report focuses on the reading habits of American families.  Over 1,000 pairs of children aged 6 to 17 and their parents were questioned along with 678 parents of children aged 0 to 5.

The Report finds that parents are aware of the importance of their children reading over the summer yet 47% are unaware of the so-called Summer slide (the loss of academic skills that occurs when school is not in session, and which is attributed largely to the lack of reading).  Researchers say that Summer slide effects are cumulative, meaning that by the time a struggling reader reaches middle school, they may well have accumulated a two-year lag in reading achievement.

Growth in the numbers of children not reading during the summer break

Despite increased awareness of the Summer slide, the number of young people reporting reading no books at all over their summer break has increased over the last two years:

  • 15 to 17-year olds who read no books over the summer holiday is up from 22% to 32%
  • 9 to 11-year olds who reported reading no books over the summer has doubled over the last two years to 14%
  • Children whose parents are aware of the Summer slide are more likely to read over the summer holiday

Key findings

Kids need help finding books they like - four in report they have trouble finding books that they like but the percentage is much higher with infrequent readers.

Reading role models show kids the way - frequent readers are more likely to be surrounded by people who they perceive to enjoy reading

Books at home and in the classroom provide access - frequent readers have an average of 139 books for children in their homes vs. 74 in infrequent readers’ homes. In school, classroom libraries are only available for 43 percent of school-aged children and only one-third say they have a classroom library that has enough of the types of books they’d like to read.

When kids choose, kids read - regardless of reading frequency or age, 89% of children agree their favourite books are the ones they have picked themselves. While 70% of school-aged children say they have a school library, only 56% say the school library has enough of the books they want to read.

The value of classroom libraries – 60% of 6- to 8 year-olds with a robust classroom library are frequent readers, compared to 51% without a robust classroom library.

Summer reading challenges

The scholastic (US) Summer reading challenge Read-a-Palooza is now underway. This challenge is a free online reading programme. Students can register their reading minutes and unlock digital rewards as weekly reading challenges are completed. At the end of the summer, Scholastic will recognise the top-achieving school in each state and the top ten libraries and community partners nationwide will be recognised.

In the UK The Reading Agency’s 2019 Summer Reading Challenge encourages children aged between 4-11 to read six library books over the summer holiday. Inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, this year’s theme is Space Chase. The Challenge helps get three quarters of a million children into libraries each year to keep up their reading skills and confidence. The Challenge is 20 years old this year.