Components of High-Quality Summer Reading Programs (View or download and print a PDF document of these components that includes research citations.)
Include readers from cradle to grave because one-third of the 9th grade reading achievement gap can be attributed to young children who begin school already behind due to unequal access to early learning opportunities; the remaining two-thirds can be attributed to unequal access to summer learning opportunities; and parents, as their child’s first and best teacher, need to model reading for fun and as a way to delve deeper into interests.
Promote a variety of reading and listening formats as additional ways children and teens can participate to accommodate multiple intelligences, different thinking styles, diverse abilities, and other special needs.
Promote a variety of genres and diverse content in reading and listening materials because twice as many titles on most school reading lists are written by “dead white men” and therefore they do not reflect increasingly multicultural students; and 43—98% of the titles are fiction even though boys often prefer nonfiction.
Engage readers and listeners in fun activities that provide the opportunity to discuss the books they are reading and listening to, integrate these books into real-world experiences, or create projects based on these books because children and teens benefit most from hybrid programs that combine free reading and choice—a principal of positive youth development—with guided enrichment that develops background information to support learning.
Continue storytimes for young children and families because young children may not be read to at home and they lack the ability to read for themselves, and families need consistent encouragement and support to create positive reading experiences for their children.
Include English language learners and children and teens who speak foreign languages because English language learners and foreign language speakers who do more free reading score better on language acquisition tests.
Partner with teachers and school librarians at local schools to identify students most at risk of falling behind over the summer to target with summer reading promotions; and to purchase materials on teachers’ summer reading lists to support school curriculum and teachers’ efforts to encourage summer reading.
Reach out to and partner with local agencies and organizations that already work with low-income and disadvantaged youth because summer vacation can cause average students to lose up to one month of instruction, and disadvantaged students who lack access to quality summer programs and reading material can lose more than one month of the knowledge and skills they gained while they were in school the previous year.
Give away free books for children and teens to keep and/or provide free library cards to children from birth through high school graduation because children and teens who have greater access to books read more, and the more they read the more their reading and writing skills improve.