Confession of a librarian mom: Reading and summer slide

Posted on June 5, 2018 at 6:00 am

By Gwendolyn Haley

Last summer my family was busy with summer activities: camps, road trips, and camping vacations. We planned highly educational and enriching activities for our youngest daughter, but we did not make reading a high priority.

When she started school in the fall, her teacher told me that she had definitely lost ground with reading. I was horrified. How could I have let this happen? I know all about summer slide.

Summer slide happens when kids don’t read over the summer and actually lose ground with reading skills. As a librarian, I also know that this is especially critical for grade K–3 years when children are learning to read.

So after the teacher’s report, every day, my daughter and I made reading together a priority. We found pockets of time to fit it in. One not-so-obvious way was to squeeze it in while I make dinner and she sits on a stool and reads to me. By the spring parent-teacher conference, my daughter shared how she had already met and exceeded her end-of-the-year reading goal.

Here is another path to success and the single best reading motivator for kids. My daughter discovered books that she enjoys and picks out the ones she wants to read. Research shows that choosing their own reading material is a better reading motivator for kids than any prize.

This year, I am determined to not let the summer slide creep up on us. We’ve set a summer goal for reading (600 minutes!), equaling about 20 minutes a day for 6 weeks. That isn’t overwhelming and leaves plenty of time for family activities.

Luckily, the Library District has ways to help track and practice reading this summer. The first is our Online Summer Reading website where you can track your summer reading, earn badges for reading milestones, and more. You can sign up online now.

The Summer Reading Buddy program helps kids entering grades 1–5 become stronger readers with weekly, one-on-one reading practice with a trained adult or teen Reading Buddy. The program runs from July 9 to August 3 at North Spokane, Otis Orchards, and Spokane Valley Libraries. To participate, parents can complete the online registration by June 25, 2018.

For parents, life is busy and can be overwhelming sometimes. And at the same time, we want the best for our kids. It turns out that making sure kids are reading over the summer, and that we are reading with them, is the best way to set them up for school success.

Gwendolyn Haley

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