Summer reading is so different than reading for school. Here are 3 reasons to encourage it for kids.

Here's a hint: FREE BOOKS!

1. "Summer Slide." It sounds fun, but it's not what you think!

Ooh, like a water slide? Who doesn't love a water slide?

But nope. "Summer slide" is the backslide that happens when a kid's learning activities stall out for three whole months. Sociologists say the summer slide compounds over the years of a child's schooling and is a main factor for big differences in achievement between students from low-income and high-income families.


Not the kind of slide we like, is it? Quote via Reading Is Fundamental.

2. This highly scientific reason from my teen son:

"When I read during the summer, I have more time to get lost in the book and luxuriate in it. I get to read for the love of reading, and not for an assignment, not on a deadline. Summer reading has been the path to me actually loving reading."
— Axel, son of Angie Aker

And he's not wrong, according to Alfie Kohn, a critic of strictly regimented reading:

"Nothing contributes to a student's interest in (and proficiency at) reading more than the opportunity to read books that he or she has chosen. But it's easy to undermine the benefits of free reading. All you need to do is stipulate that students must read a certain number of pages, or for a certain number of minutes, each evening.

When they're told how much to read, they tend to just 'turn the pages' and 'read to an assigned page number and stop,' says Christopher Ward Ellsasser, a California high school teacher."

If we want reading to become a lifelong source of joy, letting kids truly pick their own material and time and place for it is key.

When your hands fall asleep from holding up a book you're engrossed in. That. Photo by SpiritFire/Flickr.

3. Free books for kids in grades 1-6!

It's a pretty sweet deal from Barnes & Noble. Here's how it works:

  • Kids read ANY eight books. Yes, ANY eight books, and they can be from the library or home or wherever.
  • They fill out this brief log (no book reports, no allotted amount of time).
  • They bring it in to Barnes & Noble and pick out a free book from the list.

If you can help a kid truly love reading, you can open up an entire world of possibilities for them. All the knowledge they need to do anything they set their mind to is in a book somewhere, just waiting for them to find it.

That moment when your eyelids are too heavy to read one more word. Photo by WoodleyWonderWorks/Flickr.

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