Seven tips to help your kids slide into summer reading, instead of down a summer slide

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Every summer, children lose at least two months’ worth of the knowledge they have gained during the academic year, with declines sharpest in readign.

School may be out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean reading has to be. In fact, considering that only 34% of grade 4 public school students are proficient and lack a basic reading level, your child might be better off not putting the book down once that school bell rings for summer vacation.

Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, Education Advocate and Chief Strategy Advisor for Mrs Wordsmith says that while summer is a time for kids to relax, strengthen social ties, and explore their interests, it’s also a time where a lot of students lose learning momentum because they aren’t actively engaging key skills that need tending to year-round. Research shows that children who don’t read over the summer can lose at least two months of reading development, whereas students who do read over the summer can gain a month of proficiency in reading.

“Encouraging your child to continue to read over summer ensures students keep building the muscles that are essential for academic success,” says Cardet-Hernandez. “It is critical to a child’s ability to not only retain information they’ve learned, but also to sharpen critical thinking skills essential for the next year. Kids should read or be ready to read every day— but it’s even more important in the summer when young people are outside of the literacy and content rich environments of a school.”

Cardet-Hernandez says using these tips can help keep your child’s reading skills from stalling and be an opportunity to gain reading fluency and enthusiasm.

  • Let them choose: Most books are assigned to students during the school year, but summer vacation gives kids the opportunity to choose what they want to read; a comic featuring their favorite superhero or a ‘how to’ book where they can learn how to care for a pet.
  • Go digital: While most parents try to avoid screen time with their kids, recent studies have shown the benefits of using game-based learning in childhood development, such as increased knowledge, leadership skills, and creativity. With just 20 minutes of gameplay a day, children can confidently learn 1,000 new words a year.
  • Keep it simple: Flash cards and printable worksheets are fantastic resources for fun and easy reading activities. Little ones can create their own games with flashcards and turn literacy worksheets into craft time!
  • Library day: Libraries are a great place for kids to visit throughout the summer as they offer a variety of free, fun reading-related activities for children of all ages to keep them reading all summer long, including reading clubs! Kids can read whatever they’d like throughout the summer and report on the books read to library staff to earn stickers.
  • Connect the dots: Family Road trips and outdoor adventures go hand in hand with Summer vacation, so why not find books related to where you’re going. If you’re visiting the zoo, grab a book about exotic animals, or if you’re traveling to a new State or Country, look up books with cool facts about your destination.
  • Reward them: A reward system is a great way to keep track of your child’s progress while also motivating them to stay on track with their reading to achieve a milestone.
  • Read Outside of the Book: Who says summer reading should just include books? If your child is a reluctant reader, magazines are a great way to get them engaged in reading, especially with eye-catching pictures and stories that pique their interest.

About Brandon Cardet-Hernandez:

An advocate for social change through education, Chief Strategy Advisor for award-winning literacy company Mrs Wordsmith,  Brandon Cardet-Hernandez has devoted his career to creating conditions for transformational change that champions young people. 

With a career spanning over two decades, Brandon recently served as the Senior Education Advisor to former New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, where he oversaw key initiatives, including the nation’s most significant expansion of early childhood education and the design and launch of a $30M citywide Restorative Justice and 

Social-Emotional Learning program. With a sharp eye for re-envisioning school culture and the educational system, Brandon previously held the role as Principal of the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters and led the highest graduation rate for an unscreened school in the district; far exceeding the citywide graduation average. 

The former special education teacher and community organizer currently serves on the Boston School Board and the governor’s council on Latino empowerment. His work has been featured in Essence Magazine, EdWeek, The Atlantic, People en Espanol, Commonwealth Magazine, and the Netflix documentary, Teach Us All. Brandon resides in Boston with his husband, Ariel, and their son, Cielo. 

Courtesy of Despina Danishwar