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.