Keeping the fun under the sun with good books

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JOCELYN LAUREL

Summer is the perfect time for kids to take a well-needed break from the daily school grind. Therefore, it is not surprising that there is a collective outburst of excitement amongst kids of all ages when school is finally out.

owever, summer is also the perfect time for kids to do some quality reading, especially during those long lazy days. Not only can reading be entertaining and stimulating, it is an extremely important skill for kids to cultivate throughout their lives as well.

Summer also allows kids the freedom to read what they want: whether to read purely for pleasure or to pursue their interests. It gives them access to new knowledge and points of view, and exposes them to new cultures, places, ideas and so much more!

Teachers know that reading skills take a long time to develop and can’t be taught in one go: and the only way to get better at reading is to read more. As such, kids should include reading on a regular basis as part of their lifestyle.


When kids keep reading throughout the summer, they are more likely to retain what they’ve learned in school. On the other hand, research has found that students who don’t read during the summer can lose up to two months of knowledge during the summer.

A three-year study conducted by Professors Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Reading Psychology, October 2010: Fun, Sun and Good Books, Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen) showed that children who read over the summer showed a significantly higher level of reading achievement than those who did not.

Highlights of the study are:

* According to the professors’ research, the summer reading setback is the primary reason for the reading achievement gap between children who have access to reading materials at home and those who do not. Students who do not have books at home miss out on opportunities to read. Those missed opportunities can really add up.

* Children who do not read in the summer lose two to three months of reading development while kids who do read tend to gain a month of reading proficiency. This creates a three to four month gap every year. Every two or three years the kids who don’t read in the summer fall a year behind the kids who do.

** In the Allington and McGill-Franzen study, students chose their books. Pop-culture books were the favorites, featuring musicians, athletes and television and movie characters. Their research has demonstrated that choice makes a very important contribution to achievement.

As the research above indicates, the quality of the material that a kid reads is extremely important because it varies so much. Take note, however, that although the internet may offer a wealth of information, this does not necessarily mean that spending time reading a friends’ status updates and tweets online counts as “reading.” The quality of the material that a child reads is extremely important. Reading friends’ status updates on Facebook and tweets is very different from reading online books.

So, what kind of books should you have your kids read, or more importantly, what do kids look for in a book? A survey done by Scholastics Books shows that when reading for fun, kids want the following:

70-percent, books that make them laugh

54-percent, books that let them use their imagination

48-percent, books that tell a made-up story (fantasy)

43-percent, books that have characters they wish they could be because they are strong, smart or brave

43-percent, books that teach them something new

41-percent, books that have a mystery or problem to solve

91-percent of their favorite books are the ones they have picked for themselves!

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