Worried about the 'summer slide'? Here are ways to get kids to read this summer

Children in third to fifth grades lose about 20% of their school-year gains in reading during the summer, according to Scholastic.
Books on a shelf in the library
Posted at 4:37 PM, Jun 14, 2024

Summer break is on, but summer doesn't have to include a break from reading.

"The pressure is off, school's out, the days are longer," said Mindy Berry Walker, executive editor of The Week Junior.

She said summer is a great time for parents to nurture a child's love for reading, "because it is a lifelong skill that they can take with them."

The Week Junior just released its annual list of the 50 books kids love most, based on a poll of 250 kids nationwide.

For students who are not as fond of reading, Berry Walker suggests you introduce the fantasy genre.

"Every year when we poll our kids, that's the genre they like the most," Berry Walker said, "and the great news is there are a lot of terrific series for fantasies."

Justyn Rampa, a regional manager with the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library, also recommends introducing your child to a book series, especially older children, "because then you don't have to make the decision of what's next," he said.

The 'summer slide'

According to Scholastic, children in third to fifth grades lose about 20% of their school-year gains in reading during the summer.

To help keep children engaged, Berry Walker tells parents to follow their child's interests.

"I guarantee you there's a book on that topic," she said, "whether it's astronauts, mummies or sports or ballet, there's going to be something."

Another incentive, Berry Walker said, is parents can let their kids stay up later for "bonus book time."

Get involved with reading

Rampa said reading doesn't have to be limited to bedtime. He said find a comfortable space outdoors or in the home where everyone reads together, moms and dads included.

"Resist the urge of flipping through on your phone," he said. "Take out a book and read so that your kids are seeing that you're reading too."

Parents can also utilize programs and resources at their local libraries. The Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library, for example, is offering young readers a prize for completing a 25-day challenge.

"Really trying to just dig into reading and fun and just let kids know that both can be true at the same time," Rampa said.

The Week Junior has its own challenge. For reading three books, children have a chance to win free books, and one child will win a video call with an author.

Experts remind parents that audiobooks, comics and magazines count as reading.

"I like reading chapter books, because they help me learn new words," said Texas third grader Pattie Turner, a reminder that every page counts.