What summer looks like these days
At best, a child’s summer is a time for
Something different
Creative exploration
Unfortunately, too often families find summer a time of struggle to find
• Adequate childcare
• Opportunities for education and enrichment
Constructive activities make a difference
Research consistently shows
• Youths engaged in constructive learning activities return to school
in the fall ready to learn
• Youths who don’t have access to constructive learning opportunities
are at a disadvantage when they go back to school in the fall
The Learning Season: The Untapped Power of Summer to Advance Student Achievement
notes that summer programs can support academic success in four ways: (1) sheer
availability of time; (2) building relationships between children and adults; (2) providing
engaging learning activities that give children a chance to practice school-taught skills
and make that knowledge meaningful; and (4) experiential learning.
Summer loss
• First described in 1906, more than a century ago
• The well-documented phenomenon in which kids forget much of
what they’ve learned over the summer
• All students experience some, especially in math
• It is too often accepted as the status quo, but it’s a problem we can
solve. Raising awareness is the first step
Summer loss research brief: Summer Can Set Kids on the Right – or Wrong – Course
Summer loss and the achievement gap
• The achievement gap refers to differences in academic performance
between groups of kids based on family income or some other
• Summer loss exacerbates achievement gaps
• More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higherincome youths can be explained by unequal access to summer
learning opportunities
Summer loss and the achievement gap (continued)
• In the area of reading, kids in high poverty areas lose a lot – more
than two months of reading performance each summer.
• The effect can be cumulative: research finds that by the time some
children reach middle school, they are reading two-and-a-half years
behind their peers due to summer loss
• New research about the lasting impact of summer learning
found that participating in good summer programs in the early
elementary years made a significant, positive difference in reading
achievement scores of incoming ninth graders
Faucet theory
• Wealthier families can make up for summer loss to a considerable
extent, but poor families are unlikely to have that ability
• Public agencies are critical in keeping access to services “flowing,”
by offering summer enrichment opportunities to families with
fewer resources
• When school is in session, the resource “faucet” is turned on for all
kids – providing such services as education, meals, safety, physical
activities, etc.
• When school is not in session, the faucet is turned off
Learn more about the faucet theory, and how to keep it on
Summer activities for very young children
• For emerging readers – children in preschool and kindergarten –
it is especially important to continue their exposure to text, books,
and literacy during the summer
Kinds of summer programs
• School-based summer academic support programs
• Camps: day camps and sleep-away camps
• Community-based organizations’ summer experiences
• Public libraries
How teachers can mitigate summer loss
• Arrange end-of-year parent/teacher conferences that focus on what
parents can do during the summer to support learning
• Check with the teachers of the next grade and find out what topics
they’ll cover in the new school year
- Preview some of those concepts with children
- Let parents know what topics will be taught, and how to
Use Summer Fun to Build Background Knowledge
- Include upcoming topics on summer book lists
How parents can mitigate summer loss
• Time is at a premium, so try to work a little creative and fun
learning into every summer day
• If you’re taking a trip, read books about the destination in advance
• Preview the places that you’re going to visit, and talk about the
concepts and ideas that your family will be introduced to
• Keep it engaging for both you and your child
• Talk about what’s happening in the news
• When you go places, talk about what you’re seeing
How to Make the Most of Summer: What Parents Can Do to Keep Kids Sharp
Over the Summer
The best programs aim for summer gain
• Accelerate reading performance
• Providing opportunities to develop talents
• Propel the child forward
Public libraries
• More than 95 percent of public libraries offer summer reading
• Libraries are ideal places for families to continue their reading
over the summer months
• Library summer reading programs began in the 1890s as a way to
encourage school children, particularly those in urban areas and not
needed for farm work, to read during their summer vacation, use
the library, and develop the habit of reading
Reading incentive programs
Popular ways to encourage children to keep in the habit of reading
• Events
• Formalized recognition of the child as a continuing reader
• Small gifts
ALA’s Summer Reading and Learning for Children: Resources for Librarians
Reading incentive program tips
• Build on ideas from other librarians. Libraries often create summer
reading manuals (a standard search engine will yield many of
• To encourage children to read longer books, provide recognition for
amount of time or number of pages read (rather than number of
• Pay attention to what works in your local community
• The best incentive programs use extrinsic motivation in order to
build intrinsic motivation. Sometimes it takes external rewards to
get children over an initial resistance, but in the long run we want
children to be intrinsically motivated, excited, and interested in
reading because it’s personally gratifying
Organizations that offer summer programs
Faith-based organizations
Community-based organizations
Nonprofit organizations
Parks and/or recreation departments
Cultural institutions
Policy note: Communities should determine their assets, and
figure out ways to get families access to those resources
Beyond books
• Libraries also offer audio books on cassette or CD – these are great
to listen to in the car on long summer trips
• Most libraries also have movies (DVD or video tapes) available to
patrons. Make a game of reading the book and then watching the
movie based on the book
Finding the Right Book, Tifton, GA
A visit to the public library shows how a child’s natural enthusiasms can
lead parents and librarians to good books that will help create a
motivated reader
Carole Fiore, American Library Association
J. Sara Paulk, Head Librarian
Phyllis Hunter, Reading Consultant
How to choose good books
• Follow the child’s natural interests
• Librarians can help find good books in all sorts of subjects
• Reading lists, e.g., ALA’s Summer Reading and Learning for
Children: Recommended Reading for Children and Their Families
How to choose good books (continued)
• Readers’ advisories – when you recommend a book to someone,
you are participating in readers’ advisory. The library often has
formal advisories, and staff who are trained to be excellent advisors.
But informally engaging in conversations with other families about
the books you’ve enjoyed is another way to learn about new books
you might enjoy
• Check electronic resources, such as the International Children’s
Digital Library
Motivating reluctant summer readers
• Really probe and “tune-in” to determine children’s interests
• Try graphic novels
• Help create the child’s self-image of himself as a reader
• Model reading behavior – make reading a part of everyday life
Barriers to library use
• Unfamiliarity. Help parents know where the library is, help them
develop comfort and familiarity with it, and help make library use a
• Distance. Book mobiles, school libraries, and electronic resources
can help eliminate this barrier
School/public library communication
• Critical in making a good transition to summer
• It’s a challenge, but the effort should be made
• Public librarians should tell school librarians what the plans are for
the summer, e.g., the theme of the summer reading program
• The school librarian can share the school’s summer reading lists and
other materials, as well as letting parents and children know what’s
going on at the public library in the summer
• The key is to take the things your children are expressing as their
interests, and connect them to resources in the community
• Surround kids with resources – reading material and other
resources – to keep them inspired
ReadWriteThink has activities by grade level that will keep children and teens reading
and writing all summer long
What parents can look for
• There are educational opportunities that range from free to costly,
programs in every budget range
• If it seems like it would be fun and engaging to your child, they will
probably get more out of it
• When looking for childcare, ask what kinds of learning experiences
the children will have, such as
– Book clubs
– Reading time
– Team learning projects
– Outdoor activities
What parents can look for (continued)
• Look for well-balanced programs that will provide many different
things that kids need
• Look to the library – it’s both fun and free
• Also look for special programs at the library
e.g., a bilingual mother/daughter summer
book club in Houston, highlighted in this e-newsletter
A Welcoming Library, Washington, D.C.
A library in a bilingual school in which children’s love of reading is
encouraged and resources in many languages are offered
Laura Kleinmann, Librarian
How libraries support ELLs and summer reading
• Día de los niños / Día de los libros
• Developing collections in many languages
• REFORMA, a subgroup of ALA focusing on ELLs
• ESL classes
• Help families make library visits an easy habit
• Events
• A recent ALA report shows that offering children’s books in many
languages is very important in getting families into the library
How parents of ESL students can encourage their
children’s summer reading
• Serve as role models – make sure that children see family members
• Read in any or all the languages you know
– People who can speak more than one language have an
advantage in life
– A second language is tied to identity
“If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything”
• Developed by Dr. Roy and her University of Texas students
• Serves North American children at tribal schools
• Helps build collections, plan events, and serve as connection
between school and communities
Learn more about the “If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything” program
Types of students who benefit most
• All students can benefit from summer learning
• It is critical that kids in high-poverty areas have the same
kind of access to activities that many children have
as a matter of course
Summer school
• Summer school often has a bad reputation as a punitive measure,
but it does not have to be that way
• Many school districts are re-designing their summer learning
opportunities with the aim of closing the achievement gap
• Many school districts are partnering with nonprofit organizations,
such as YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, or public libraries to add
resources and become all-day enrichment opportunities
Islands of Excellence
• An excellent example of a summer program is Harlem RBI
• Uses baseball and softball, and the power of teams, to provide
inner-city youth with opportunities to build literacy, social, and
emotional skills, and physical health
• Boys and girls arrive in uniform, and then spend the morning
working with their teams in classrooms doing literacy activities and
hands-on learning activities with well-trained adult leaders. In the
afternoon, the kids go out on the baseball fields and learn the sport
• Policy note: As a country, we need to scale-up excellent programs.
Federal, state and local resources need to be
directed to do this
How to find summer programs
• Start with your school, ask teachers and the principal
• Directories and family magazines
• Neighborhood / community organizations (including recreation
departments, community centers)
• Public libraries
Two resources that can connect parents to some resources in their state are the American
Camp Association and the C.S. Mott Foundation Statewide Afterschool Network
Characteristics of a good summer program
The Center for Summer Learning has identified nine
characteristics of effective summer learning programs:
Intentional focus on accelerating learning
Firm commitment to youth development
Proactive approach to summer learning
Strong, empowering leadership
Advanced, collaborative planning
Extensive opportunities for staff development
Strategic partnerships
Rigorous approach to evaluation and commitment to program
Clear focus on sustainability and cost-effectiveness
What about summer math loss?
While summer reading loss gets a lot of attention, it’s clear that
math loss is an issue for all children as well
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has a website of family math resources
Based on family reading programs, some groups have created similar family math
programs, ERIC Digest of Family Math for Urban Students and Parents reviews some of
these programs, and these printout activities can help parents at home
The Department of Education offers a booklet of fun activities: Helping Your Child Learn
How can I facilitate the summer reading of children
with learning disabilities?
• ALA’s Schneider Family Book Awards honor books that portray the
artistic expression of the disability experience for child and
adolescent audiences
• Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers is a list of books
that interest reluctant teen readers, compiled yearly by ALA’s
Young Adult Library Services Organization (YALSA)
How can I facilitate the summer reading of children
with learning disabilities? (continued)
• Have an end-of-year parent/teacher conference concentrating on the
child’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan)
• Determine what the IEP requires over the summer
• Make a solid plan to do the kinds of activities needed to keep
the child on track during the summer months
What can teachers do?
• Find out what the student will be studying next year
– Make summer recommendations that will build the child’s
background knowledge in those areas
– This will help ease the child’s transition to the next grade
• Reach out to parents
– Make sure they have what they need to find or create
constructive learning activities via
» Parent tip sheets
» Book lists
» List of community learning opportunities
» Calendar of events at the local library
What about year-round schools?
• The goal is year-round learning
• In many year-round schools, the school calendar is changed, but the
number of days children are in class stays the same
• If you add 30 more days, it means 180-200 hours more of engaged
learning time. That can really make a difference
What can I do to promote literacy while we’re
on the road?
Many activities fold seamlessly into the kinds of things parents want
to do anyway
• Audio books in the car (Tip: have a selection so no one gets burned
out from repetition)
• Serialized books (read aloud in the car or on CD) allow an
opportunity to talk about what happens next, the plot, what to
expect from the genre, and characters
• Build in time for relaxed reading on vacation days
What can I do to promote literacy while we’re
on the road? (continued)
• Undertake pre-trip reading about the destination. This helps build
background knowledge and excitement
• After the trip, children can reflect on their experiences by writing or
building scrapbooks, for example
Can technology help with summer learning?
• In addition to audio books, gaming can really get kids involved in
libraries and learning
• ALA’s young adult section keeps a wiki list of games and
gaming-related resources for libraries
• Kids often have an intrinsic motivation to use technology
Can technology help with summer learning? (continued)
• Children should not lose out on physical activity by sitting in front
of a screen
• A recent study showed children gain weight three times faster
during the summer months
• Parents should look for a balance. Provide children opportunities
for physical activity. Structured time and reasonable limitations on
TV and computer time are needed
How can I get my child excited about summer reading
before school ends?
• Plug in to their interests
• Plug in to fun (e.g., humorous books like Captain Underpants)
How can I create a family reading incentive program?
• Rewards don’t have to be costly
– Extra computer time
– Celebrations or trips to fun places (like the park or a picnic)
• This type of activity is great for teaching kids the value of working
towards something over time
– With consistent work and keeping your eyes on the goal, there
will be a large end-of-summer reward
What other media besides books are effective?
Print, text, and words in all forms and fashions are excellent
Audio books
Labels / Signs / Logos
Online resources
The Newspaper Association of America Foundation offers a how-to
Parent Newspaper Guide in English and Spanish
Final thoughts
• We need to think broadly as a nation about how we can make sure
that our young people are learning over the summer. We must
figure out ways creatively to close those gaps – achievement,
resource, and opportunity. Our future is at stake if we deny millions
of young
people access to these kinds of opportunities.
• Remember that the library is there, and has been there for over 150
years. Check out what’s new at the library. You may be surprised!

Summer loss - Reading Rockets