Take Five: Reading Only 4 or 5 Books During the Summer Can Prevent Loss of Skills

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For children who don’t read during the summer, the loss of reading skills gained during the school year is as predictable as sunburn and bug bites.

Studies have shown that kids who have a care free but book-free summer can lose 1 month of reading achievement. And  according to Julie Wood, educational consultant for PBS Kids Island, this loss can add up over time; students who don’t read during the summer can lose up to two years’ worth of reading skill by middle school.

Surprisingly, a child can maintain their current reading level by reading only 4 or 5 books over the summer.   Research findings also suggest that, regardless of family income, children can hold steady and even increase reading skills over the summer.

How?  By providing access to books and parent involvement. Kids are most successful when parents encourage reading, read to and with them, and use simple strategies to help with vocabulary and comprehension.

Please check out some of these suggestions below, and have a wonderful and safe summer!


  • Join a summer reading program-libraries, Parks and Recreation departments, school districts and local colleges are excellent, low or no-cost resources.
  • Choose a special time during the day to read.
  • Ideally, beginning readers should read at least 15-20 minutes each day.  More important than the time spent is the amount they read. The more pages and books, the better.
  • Let your child choose books that match their interests. Use their last report card or results from state testing to figure out their current reading level.
  • Read aloud to them, even if they can read on their own, or take turns reading aloud. This lets you model smooth, fluent reading and helps build vocabulary.
  • Pick out words that are new to them and talk about what they mean.
  • Ask them to predict what might happen next-this is a great way to boost comprehension and understanding of how stories are structured.
  • Once you finish the story:
  1.   Ask them to re-tell the story to someone else. If you have the time, you can even video them or ask them to draw pictures to accompany their re-telling.
  2.  Both of you can choose a favorite part of the story. Talk about it, draw it, or even act it out!
  3. WHY questions-ask your child why they think a certain character behaved as they did. If your child is not able to do this, you can model it for them: “I think the monkey took the keys because he wanted to get out of his cage.” This promotes not only comprehension but understanding of cause and effect.






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