Summer Reading for the Young and Old

Updated on April 9, 2018
Rachel Horon profile image

I am a former educator, stay-at-home mom, and freelance writer.

Summer Reading
Summer Reading

When the final school bell of the academic year rings, children are ready to leave all books behind and play through the long, sunny days of summer. The warmest season of the year is made for swimming, biking, running, and playing with friends.

It is also time to catch up on things avid readers want to do, which is read without interruption of school work or rigid schedules. At the same time, it is a critical time to maintain what children have learned in order to avoid the "summer slide," a term used in education that defines the loss of learning over the course of an extended break or vacation. Summer slide can be avoided without the structure regime of school and still appeal to all types of readers. Even adults who want to catch on their pleasure reading can indulge at the same time as their children.

Resources to Prevent the Summer Slide

What Is the Impact of the Summer Slide?

The summer slide is not the playground, but the loss of academic skills, particularly reading. Three months away from books and learning can result in two months of loss, or 22 percent of the school year. This results in teachers reviewing in the first quarter of the new school year. The children who struggle the most with summer slide are those in low-income families with fewer resources and less time. According to studies reported by The New York Times, the achievement gap has widened between the two socio-economic groups.

Summer learning programs can reduce the negative impact on the summer slide. While the benefits have the greatest positive results for low-income students, the literacy programs are important to all children regardless of socio-economic status. Each community has summer reading programs that encourages reading, or if not, it is possible to create one that motivates all types of readers.

Summer Reading Programs for Children

Summer reading programs make it fun for children to read and often offer an incentive for participating. Bookstores will give free books that is appropriate for the child's age group while other businesses may give a reward while motivating them to come into their store. Examples include Books a Million and Barnes and Noble.

Online programs may interest the young ones with access to the Internet and web pages full of reading logs, challenges, and interactive features. Sites that require registration for challenges and prizes include:

When the bookstores are not close to home or Internet access is limited, nothing brings summer reading closer to a child than the local library. When school is out, their programs begin. Whether it is prizes for reading a certain number of books or storytime that brings books to life, the public library is a free option that is cool for children of all ages and abilities. Summer services vary from library to library.

The Importance of Self-Selected Books

During the summer, children and teens can read more at their independent reading level rather than their instructional reading level because they are not required to focus on comprehension or vocabulary. They are reading what they want, not what the teacher assigns them. If a fourteen-year-old wants to read comics, graphic novels, or books that they have read over and over again, it should be encouraged. They are showing an interest in reading different types of printed text, and repeated readings of a text is good for fluency among other reading strategies. While the idea of summer reading is to prevent the "summer slide", the key is that children are reading for pleasure.

Where to Get the Summer Books

The library is the best place to get your child's hands on a book so they can see if it is something that interests them or at their reading level. If they are participating in any summer programs in which librarians are reading the stories or talking about book titles on a particular topic, the child can find what they want on the topics that interest them. Most importantly, the books, magazines, and other resources are free with the library card.

Many libraries have a used book sale or paperback exchange. This makes it easy for young readers to get new books to read at a very affordable price. Depending on the selection, readers can find something new from books to magazines just with pocket change. Paperback exchanges are ideal for sharing books that are not as durable as those with library-binding. Often it is the romance novels that are on the shelf, but with some planning, interest, and promotion of the concept, children's books could also be exchanged for one day only or on a regular basis. Neighborhoods or circles of friends can put together a book exchange as well.

The Internet can also connect children with books. E-books are growing in popularity. Youth can download books on their handheld devices or read books from free book websites and services such as Kindle. Project Gutenberg for older readers who are interested in the classic among other titles. SmartKidzClub is a subscription-based digital library of books kids will love with contemporary content and read-along technology.

Adult Summer Reading

Some local libraries include adults in their summer reading programs as well. Children should not be the only ones to indulge in a good book or magazine. In some cases, adults earn their own prizes, such as gift cards to local book stores or other businesses, reading-related items, or other nice gifts. This encourages regular readers and summer library visitors to read the novels or magazines they want and be rewarded, just like a kid. For the adult who brings their child for a summer program, they can take the time to sit back in the air-conditioned library and read while their child is having fun with books and games.

Book lists can motivate or inspire adult readers. Oprah has her list of summer reading suggestions. Recommendations from friends and colleagues may finally be read when there is downtime in the summer. The search term "summer reading list" can populate many suggestions from numerous sources.

Get Ready for Summer Reading!

You are never too young or too old to enjoy a good book. There is more than one way to get motivated to read something new or something you have been waiting to dive into. While an achievement gap is growing in some parts of the country, it does not have to be. Books are available through a variety of sources. Magazines and comics can also count as texts that young readers can read for pleasure. Motivators and incentives can be found in just as many places. Parents and children can come up with new ways to share their books and reduce the impact of the "summer slide." Some of the programs mentioned start as early as May, so it isn't too soon to start choosing your summer read today!

Other Recommended Summer Reading Sources

Summer Reading Poll

Which statement is true about summer reading and your family?

See results

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Rachel Horon


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      • Larry Rankin profile image

        Larry Rankin 

        4 years ago from Oklahoma

        Great ideas for keeping us all reading during the summer months.

      • Rachel Horon profile imageAUTHOR

        Rachel Horon 

        5 years ago from Indiana

        I just started reading ebooks myself, but the love for the book is still there no matter what. I have found that a few on the tablet during downtime takes up less space in my purse. Back in high school I used to carry 6 paperbacks in my purse at any given time. Thanks for commenting!

      • momsdoworkathome profile image

        Katina Davenport 

        5 years ago from Michigan

        Thankfully, my children absolutely love books and love to read. I do too. I vowed never to start reading ebooks when they became popular. Well, I broke that vow. Although I love to have an instant book downloaded to my computer or Kindle I still love the turning of pages. My children would rather have an actual book to flip through.

      • Rachel Horon profile imageAUTHOR

        Rachel Horon 

        6 years ago from Indiana

        Thanks for stopping by, Thelma!

      • Thelma Alberts profile image

        Thelma Alberts 

        6 years ago from Germany and Philippines

        I used to bring my child to the library during summer time when he was a kid and we mostly borrowed books for reading at home. Thanks for sharing this informative hub. Have a nice day!

      • Rachel Horon profile imageAUTHOR

        Rachel Horon 

        7 years ago from Indiana

        Happy reading this summer Stephanie!

      • stephanieb27 profile image


        7 years ago from United States

        I have two boys (4 and 6) that love to read and be read to! We participate in the program at the library. :)

      • Rachel Horon profile imageAUTHOR

        Rachel Horon 

        7 years ago from Indiana

        Six is a great time for reading - old enough to read for yourself but young enough to enjoy when someone reads aloud a book you aren't ready yet. Thanks for your comments!

      • peachpurple profile image


        7 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        my kids didn't join any summer reading program but he reads lots of books everyday after school. He is 6 years old and he prefer to read than to do his homework.


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