In a typical summer, I might be writing to you about the dangers of the “summer slide”. The summer slide is a term used to describe the learning loss that occurs during the summer vacation. Struggling students are particularly at risk for losing ground in their quest to become a fluent reader. The statistics are alarming. According to a report by the National Summer Learning Association, almost all students experience some degree of learning loss. One conservative estimate is that on average, students lose 2 months’ worth of learning. That is nearly one quarter of the whole school year! The summer slide is real and serious. It is a problem that has been studied for decades.
When it isn’t the typical summer…
2020 is not a typical summer or a typical year by any measure. Covid lockdowns mean that the usual 9 or 10 weeks pause in learning has been a much longer period of uncertainty, partial learning interruptions, and inconsistency, followed by the usual summer period.
The simplest and most effective way to combat the summer slide is to keep reading! Setting aside time each day for your family reading time, participating in summer reading programs to earn prizes. Making a family culture of literacy where you talk about and get excited about books can go a very long way. In a typical summer, many families would make regular trips to the library to peruse and chat with children’s librarians about what books their child might enjoy. Although many libraries are still able to provide books, for many, this service is curbside pickup only.
So, how do you help your child find books that they are going to enjoy and that aren’t going to be frustrating for them?
Here are some great internet resources for finding your next favorite book:
The popular author has a personal mission to create and find books that will delight even the most reluctant reader. This website has book reviews of a variety of books including graphic novels that may be very appealing to struggling readers.
The Oxford Owl site requires registration but has lots of free e-books available for elementary school readers. This site is based in England, so it can take a little figuring to decode their system for organization. They do have a collection of largely decodable books and Phases 2, 3 & 4 would be appropriate for many students in an OG based tutoring program. For more information about these decodable books check out the information on the site here: https://home.oxfordowl.co.uk/reading/what-is-letters-and-sounds/
- What Should I Read Next https://www.whatshouldireadnext.com
This website allows you to type in a favorite book and find suggestions for books that other people that liked that same book also enjoyed. This is not a youth specific site, so if parents have created the lists of books they liked, you may wind up with the occasional murder mystery mixed in with Captain Underpants. Nevertheless, it can make an excellent jumping off point to find some more books to investigate further.
- Scholastic Teacher’s Book Wizard https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/bookwizard/
If you are looking for books in a specific difficulty range, this is a tool that can be really helpful. It allows you to look up the book level (either Guided Reading, Lexile or DRA) of a specific book or search for books in a specific level range. It offers some recommendations including other books in a series or other books you might enjoy. There are also some curated lists on the site of books that specifically appeal to certain grade levels or books of certain genres.
- Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/
Goodreads is a bit like social media for book lovers. It has book reviews, curated lists and the ability to track one’s own reading. There is an annual reading challenge where users set a reading goal for the year and by entering book on Goodreads, it keeps track of your progress toward your goal. This can be a helpful tool in a lot of different ways. You can connect with friends and family and share book recommendations. You can find a variety of book reviews and some excellent lists with suggestions for specific ages or genres.
One of the very best things you can do for your struggling reader is to keep them engaged with high interest, age appropriate books that their friends are also reading through audiobooks. This promotes the development of higher order comprehension skills and builds vocabulary as well as allowing children to feel included in discussions with friends and classmates. Here are three great sources of subscription audiobooks:
- Learning Ally https://learningally.org/
Learning Ally is a source of audiobooks specifically available for students with reading or vision disabilities. In addition to traditional audiobooks, many books are available in a format that allows students to follow along with the text as they listen to the audiobook, which is particularly beneficial for building fluency.
- Audible https://www.audible.com/
Audible is linked conveniently to Amazon making it easy to purchase an e book or regular book and the audiobook at the same time for a discount. Audible is a membership subscription that gives users a certain number of credits per month. This is a great source for the current popular books and the recording quality and narrations are very well done. Like many of the sites for finding traditional books, Audible has curated lists of books of certain genres or to suit certain interests. It is even possible to organize and search for books based on the narrator.
Epic is an amazing collection of high-quality children’s literature e-books and audiobooks in one. Students are able to access features either to have the books read to them or to read them by themselves. Although it is a paid subscription service, like Audible, Epic has a free trial available. A membership to Epic provides unlimited access to their collection. Both Audible and Epic also include original content that they have created for this platform.
I hope these resources will help you keep your learner actively engaged with books during this summer and going forward into uncertain times. As parents and educators, this is the single biggest thing we can do to combat the summer slide and the interruptions to student learning.
Before you go…
“Building Readers For Life“is the SECOND Literacy Nest online conference and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you. This online conference features 16 presenters beginning on August 3, 2020. All those who sign up have 3 months of access to all prerecorded video presentations and conference handouts.
TPT is having their annual back to school sitewide sale on August 4-5, 2020. Save up to 25% off everything in my store with promo code BTS20.
Thank you for stopping by today!