Question: What can I do during the summer to help my child continue to develop strong literacy skills?

Answer:  Yes, it's true…Summer vacation is just around the corner. Children and their weary parents are dreaming of long summer evenings free of homework. What a relief it will be to put those books in the drawer or on the shelf and leave them there for a few months! Right? Wrong!

Teachers know, and experts agree, that what is often referred to as the "summer slide" can harm your child's educational progress. Reading is a skill for life, and, as with any skill, practice is key. Studies have shown that children who read more become better readers. Children who read over the summer months often gain, rather than lose, important skills. When children become better readers, reading becomes a more enjoyable experience, and they want to read more. Whether your child is just beginning to learn the letters of the alphabet or reading Shakespeare, reading every single day, even in the summer, will keep reading enjoyable and skills sharp. Particularly for students who struggle, keeping hard-earned literacy skills strong over the summer break is essential.

It's not hard to do. Many libraries and bookstores offer summer reading clubs that keep children engaged with parties and prizes to encourage reading. With so many great books out there, summer is the time for you to help your child find books and magazines that are interesting and fun. Your local public library or bookstore can help you and your child find just the right book about just the right topic. Whether it is a book about building bridges, a favorite athlete, a magazine about cool cars or a funny comic book, reading for at least 30 minutes a day will keep your child on the road to becoming a lifelong reader. Writing should be part of the summer, too. Encourage your child to keep a summer journal and write letters to grandparents and friends.

There are many wonderful resources on the internet that can give you ideas and activities to keep reading alive over the summer. Here are some that are worth checking out:


  • The Get Ready to Read! early literacy activity cards are a great place to start for young children.  They will give you lots of new ideas for bringing literacy activities into your home and daily routine, or your classroom.  They are free and easy to print, and are available in English and Spanish.
  • The Michigan Department of Education has developed wonderful summer learning guides for Pre-K through Grade 2.  Find them here.
  • Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) has several resources for summer reading fun.  Go to the RIF 2007 Summer Reading Guide here.
  • The Just Read Families Web site from the Florida Department of Education Web site to view their calendar of summer reading and learning activities for young children.
  • Find more great ideas to keep learning alive during the summer in the NCLD Parent Center.