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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.

Summer slide

May 24, 2010

When I first heard the term "summer slide" I thought of equipment on a playground. But as I'm sure you're aware, there's another meaning entirely. This slide refers to summer learning loss.

There's lots of research about it. Children tend to lose reading (and math) skills over the summer when they're not used.

There are many activities that enhance reading and will slow or stop that slide — talking, singing, reading aloud, keeping a journal or photo album of summer activities, and lots more.

One thing that our family still does is cook together. And lots of cooking can start with a story book that involves food and more.

Cook-a-doodle-doo (Sandpiper) by Janet Stevens and her sister is a very funny take-off on the traditional story of the industrious Little Red Hen. Just like his grandmother, the rooster asks for but actually gets help. Together the friends find a recipe for and make delicious strawberry shortcake. (I've tried the recipe and it is quite good!) Along the way, they also learn a few things about following the special language of cooking and recipes.

Another enjoyable story book that includes a tasty cooking activity is Honey Cookies (Francis Lincoln) by Meredith Hooper. A grandmother almost poetically describes the ingredients she and her grandchild need to make this sweet treat. (She's actually telling Ben where each originates.) A recipe for the cookies is included in this book, too (though if you try this one, add a little more butter than called for; makes them moister.)

A classic summer activity is planting a garden — even better when you're Growing Vegetable Soup (Voyager). Vegetables, seeds, and garden tools are all presented in Lois Ehlert's colorful illustrations that present a handsome garden. A recipe for vegetable soup is also included. (I've never tried this one, but it looks pretty standard.)

Do you and the children in your life have a book and favorite activity that can stop the summer slide? If so, take a minute to share it with us!


Great suggestions for to prevent the summer slide. One thing that I do as a reading specialist is I ask my students to create summer scrapbooks. I have created scrapbook packs for each of my students. I give them a disposable camera and encourage them to take pictures. Inside the scrap pack is a small paper back scrapbook that I have made plus decorative paper and stickers to create their scrapbooks. In September I invite my students who have completed their scrapbooks to a back to school breakfast to share all the events of their summer.

I love the idea of cooking with kids to avoid the summer slide. It's a great way for kids to work with other kids or parents, and keep that imagination running!

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"There is no frigate like a book, to take us lands away" — Emily Dickinson