Soon, the days will be sunny, the breezes will be warm, and the afternoons will be lazy. Summer is coming for Chicago and there’s no better summer activity than reading a book (ideally outside in a park with a snack and lemonade)! Winter gets a lot of reading love, and don’t get me wrong, the idea of cozying up in your favorite spot with a book in one hand and hot cocoa in another – while it’s also snowing – is quite comforting. But I’m here to make a case for summer reading and I think the long hazy days of summer provide the perfect reading conditions. Most importantly, for WITS students, summer provides time away from school to leisurely read for fun and interest while reinforcing the skills and practices learned throughout the school year.
There is plenty of research to support the benefits of summer reading, especially in regard to preventing the “summer slide,” when students see a decline in skills over the summer. In fact, teachers typically spend between four- and six-weeks reteaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. Evidence suggests the summer slide is a real problem and continuing purposeful reading habits over the summer can help prevent learning loss.
Continuing good reading habits over the summer positions students to succeed in the coming school year and can even put them ahead of their peers. Researcher Jimmy Kim, for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences found that “regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic level, or previous achievement, children who read four or more books over the summer fare better on reading comprehension tests in the fall than their peers who read one or no books over the summer.”
Keeping reading skills sharp year-round is incredibly important and the best way to do that is to dive into books that are high-interest and provide an exciting reading experience. Six in ten children ages 6-17 really enjoy reading over the summer and agree that “it’s a fun way to pass the time.” Young people need time to explore all the benefits recreational reading has to offer. Summer allows for children to take ownership of the reading process and gives agency to students to read on their own terms. The more casual nature of summer reading lets students blossom into their identity as readers.
WITS encourages students and mentors to take advantage of the relaxation of summer by settling in with a good book (or two). Students in WITS programs will receive five brand new books to support summer reading and add to their personal libraries. The Chicago Public Library is another great resource for students to stay engaged with reading through their Summer Learning Challenge. And don’t forget to share what you’re reading with friends and family!