With summer break quickly approaching, it’s time to take a look at 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 of losing ground in their quest to become fluent readers. 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. The good news… there are so many websites out there where you can find great books for summer reading ideas!
Curious if your struggling reader should take time off from tutoring in the summer? Check out this video, Should Kids Take Time Off from Orton-Gillingham in the Summer? for more info!
How to Combat the Summer Slide
The simplest and most effective way to combat the summer slide is to keep reading! You can do this by setting aside time each day for your family reading time and 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 children might enjoy.
So, how do you help your child find summer reading ideas and books that they are going to enjoy and that aren’t going to be frustrating for them?
Looking for more summer phonics practice, too? Check out my Summer Review Phonics Activities Bundle for Orton-Gillingham!
Here are some great websites for helping your children find their 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.
2. Oxford Owl
The Oxford Owl site requires registration but has lots of free eBooks 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.
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 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.
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 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 a 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 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 is linked conveniently to Amazon making it easy to purchase an eBook or regular book and the audiobook at the same time for a discount. It 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.
Ready to finish the school year strong? Listen to this episode on the Together in Literacy Podcast!
I hope these resources for summer reading ideas will help you keep your learner actively engaged with books this summer and going forward. As parents and educators, this is the single biggest thing we can do to combat the summer slide.
For support in finding even more summer reading ideas, sign up for Building Readers for Life Academy. Both educators and families are welcome!
Building Readers for Life Academy is a monthly membership program that empowers educators AND families by diving into structured literacy and strategies for ALL learners. With BRFL Academy, you’ll learn what it takes to help EVERY student become a reader for life.