Research shows us that summer is more than a time of family trips and fun. It is a time when many of our students are without books, especially true in low-income homes where there is often little to no reading material available and no extra money for trips to local museums and historic sites – let alone vacations in places like Hawaii. Our public schools, when they are open, are a way for students of different income levels to achieve at the same rate or nearly the same rate. But when they are closed for summer vacation, summer learning loss can become a problem for many of our students.
This year, more than ever, educators should confront the issue of summer reading loss. As educators, we can begin to look at ways our students can participate in some kind of summer reading program. Depending on when the country returns to some state of normalcy, perhaps the school’s library could be open for part of July and part of August. Do the work for parents and find out about your local library summer programs and send an email to the parents of your students before the school year’s end. Perhaps there is a bookmobile or book bus that will be in your school’s neighborhoods during summer months. Look for authors who are reading their books online to children. Find out where the “little free libraries” are in your school’s vicinity and inform parents so they can visit them.
Check out your local department of parks and recreation about camps and other activities offered and what are the costs and age ranges for each offering. Find out what exhibits, events, and author signings at local bookstores are happening in your town or a nearby location over the summer. You could compose a calendar of local summer learning fun to share with your students and their families and post a link in your classroom website or send it to parents as an email attachment.
The Laundromat Library League (LLL) makes children’s books available to children who have little or no access to books at home. A basket of books is placed in laundromats and other places such as waiting rooms in doctors’ and dentists’ offices where children and caregivers spend time waiting. The books are there for the reading, and it is encouraged that a book is taken home, and maybe even passed it on to another family. Presently, the LLL has books in laundromat locations in Arizona, Arkansas, Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia. My local reading council. KSLA Brandywine Valley Forge, donates monies and books each year to the local LLL.
You might look at the Digital Public Library of North America and look for the app that gives free schools and home access to eBooks for Title 1 schools and special education students. Look at sites such as Scholastic to see what kinds of opportunities they offer for summer reading. Sometimes there are scholarships for local reading and writing programs that occur during summer months. Summer-based learning programs are unfortunately often costly and do not reach all students. Here are some resources and interactive websites to help parents support summer learning:
Let’s strive to minimize summer learning loss and find ways to keep all our students reading until we see them in our classrooms again!