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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Getting ready for summer reading

May 20, 2013

Memorial Day is coming up soon — marking the unofficial start of summer. Parents and teachers know how hard it can be for children to remain focused as the school year ends and summer starts.

Summers that don't include books and reading for children most often results in the "summer slide" — the loss of reading skills gained during the previous school year.

Barbara Heyns' research, reported in her widely-read book Summer Learning and the Effects of Schooling (Academic Press, 1978), concluded that it is the public library more than any other institution — including schools — that had the greatest impact on a child's intellectual growth during the summer.

A recent report from the Pew Research Center, Parents, Children, Libraries, and Reading, clearly finds that parents understand the significance of libraries for their children.

The report indicates that of the 94% of parents who think libraries are important, 84% say libraries are important because library access helps inculcate children's love of reading and books, and 81% say that libraries allow children access to information and reading that is not available at home.

Equally important to my way of thinking is access to trained professionals to not only encourage engagement with books but also to navigate that information.

The Pew report also finds that "Almost every parent (97%) says it is important for libraries to offer programs and classes for children and teens."

It makes sense. A study by Dominican University released in 2010 suggests that summer reading programs enhance children's reading skills.

Libraries and children's summer reading go well together. After all, it's fun, it's free, and it can yield tangible results. Don't know what to read? Take a look at Reading Rockets' 2013 Big Summer Read. You'll find recommendations for dozens of fiction and nonfiction books (by age and reading level) that can be printed out at home or at the library.

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"Reading is not optional." —

Walter Dean Myers