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Summer Slide (and How to Avoid It)

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

When Cheri Stainforth, the library’s Early Learning Specialist, visits elementary schools

to talk about the importance of reading, she has the teachers close their eyes while she

asks the students a question, “Who doesn’t like to read?” Inevitably, a few kids always

raise their hands. Some of them say they aren’t good at reading; others say that it is


Cheri equates reading with many other activities such as sports or dance, theater or

art. She asks the kids how they’d get better at any of those things and the answer they

always give is “practice." It’s the same with reading. The more you do it, the better you

get. For those who complain that reading is boring, Cheri believes they just haven’t

found the right book.

These are important reminders for readers of any age, but especially the young who are

just beginning their relationship with reading. We don’t magically snap our fingers and

become speed-reading world-class bookworms. It takes time and practice, and it might

take a few tries to find the right book.

The primary goal of the library’s summer reading program is to prevent “summer

slide”—the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made

during the previous school year. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage kids to

read every single day.

Pam Williams, Library Director, talks about the intentional changes that have been

made to the program in order to promote a daily practice of reading, “We’ve stopped

counting books and total minutes and focus more on developing a habit of reading.” The

shift away from numbers towards normalizing daily reading sets the stage for a lifelong

relationship with books. In fact, studies have shown that reading for just twenty minutes

a day is enough to maintain learning levels in children and ward off summer slide.

According to a recent article in Scholastic, “children in 3rd to 5th grades also showed

that students lost, on average, about 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading

and 27 percent of their school-year gains in math during summer break.” This learning

loss tends to have a snowball effect with each consecutive year, especially with young

children who are at a crucial stage in their development.

All summer long the library has been hosting weekly events to help prevent summer

slide. There’s Story Time at the Farmer’s Market, the Paws for Reading program where

you can read your favorite book to Frank the service dog, Goosechase Scavenger

Hunts, Take and Make Tuesdays, Summer Surprise Thursdays, Book Talks for Teens

and Tweens, and so much more. Lastly, the library has partnered with the Frankenmuth

Historical Museum for a special Story Time at the Cross Park log cabin on Tuesday,

August 2 at 10am. Sign up to reserve your spot for this one-time event that will include a

craft and a lesson on how to make butter—the old-fashioned way!

The library website is a great place to go for the latest information on weekly summer

programming, and even if there’s no programming happening, be sure to carve out time

to visit the library often. Having free access to a variety of reading materials is an

essential part of preventing summer slide. Let kids pick out what they want to read and

show them that reading is fun by doing it yourself. After all, even adults need practice,

or perhaps just a moment to sit down and enjoy the right book.

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