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There are five days left in our school year, how many are left for you? As school winds down, here are two reminders and one idea to help make sure that reading DOESN’T wind down for kids.

According to an article on, having books around the house (the more, the better) (opens in a new window) is correlated with how many years of schooling a child will complete. The findings, reported in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, examined books and schooling in 27 nations. Results suggest that children with as few as 25 books in the family household completed on average two more years of schooling than children raised in homes without any books.

USA Today had a story about research that shows that simply giving children books may be as effective as summer school — and a lot cheaper (opens in a new window). The article is about work done by Richard Allington, who has studied the academic summer slide for many years. Many lower-income children have less access to books over the summer, and walking to a public library might not be an option. The researchers gave each child 12 books, from a list the students provided, on the last day of school. Three years later, researchers found that those students who received books had “significantly higher” reading scores, experienced less of a summer slide and read more on their own each summer than the 478 who didn’t get books.

As our own low key way to keep kids reading this summer, our school is doing the Summer Reading Bags again. I’ve found this to be a relatively simple project to pull off, even during the craziness of the last few weeks of school.

For our summer reading bags, we gather and sort used book donations from our community. Our teachers supply the reading specialist with the names of kids who could benefit from a bag of books. About 60 kids will come in this week, choose books they’re interested in from the tables, and fill a bag to bring home. I could see summer reading bags as a fun neighborhood project, and it could be slightly modified to turn into a simple book swap among kids.

Need more resources for summer learning? See our newest Web show Adventures in Summer Learning.

About the Author

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Publication Date
June 8, 2010