Text copyright © Katie Mohar. All rights reserved.
Ah, the dreaded summer slide. While it sounds like a thrilling theme park ride, “summer slide” is a term for an unfortunate annual phenomenon where many kids lose up to a month’s worth of learning during summer vacation. Fortunately, summer reading is a great way for kids to retain their academic skillset.
96 percent of parents believe that summer reading will benefit their child when the academic school year resumes, according to Scholastic. However, parents also say they are unsure why summer reading is so important to their children’s development.
I created a new tool—a printable reading log for kids—to help families build a culture of literature at home and inspire children to love reading. Today, I’ll explain the benefit of summer reading and how to use this tool, which you can download at the end of this post.
WHY KIDS NEED TO READ YEAR-ROUND
To develop their reading skills, kids need books 365 days a year. Studies show that kids rely primarily on schools for books and reading. Ideally, every child would also have a small home library. Scholastic research shows that “access to books is crucial in combating reading loss during the summer months” and we will help our kids succeed by “bringing more books into the home.” (Here’s some helpful tips for building a children’s home library.)
Reading scores for American fourth graders and eighth graders dropped three points in 2022 compared with 2019. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found that over one third of fourth graders performed below the NAEP’s basic level for reading in 2022. This is the largest percentage drop in reading proficiency in two decades.
Many students experienced academic setbacks and learning disruptions between 2020 and 2022. Social isolation also took a toll on the mental health of young people. Many kids celebrated milestones like birthdays, choir concerts, and graduations in virtual environments. These setbacks were outside their control and it is on us as parents and educators help kids catch up.
Literacy benefits children’s mental health. Kids who lose themselves in a book, whether engrossed in a thrilling story or learning a new skill, tend to have higher mental health scores than kids who don’t read.
Studies show that kids love being involved in choosing what they read. Introduce your child to your local bookstore owner or librarian—two fabulous resources to help kids find books that excite them. Many libraries and bookstores also have special reading programs and incentives just for kids.
USING MY PRINTABLE READING LOG FOR KIDS
Reading logs help motivate kids to read. Kids love tracking their progress and seeing themselves reach their goal. Reading logs also help parents become cheerleaders in their child’s reading journey.
Parents told Scholastic that they want more “questions or conversation starters” about the books their kids are reading. So, my printable reading log includes a book review page with fun questions to prompt family conversations. Short and personal, these questions invite children to express how they feel about what they read. Whether your child answers these questions orally—or by writing, doodling or drawing out their answers—they will exercise their creative and analytical skills.
Kids who are visual learners will get the satisfaction of seeing their progress. Kinesthetic learners and budding artists will enjoy tracking their goals by coloring or doodling.
Show excitement when your child progresses! It is a big deal when kids fall in love with reading! When your child finishes their reading log, display it with pride on a cork board or refrigerator. Show it off to grandparents and teachers.
If you wish, add your own small reward, like an ice cream at cone the local scoop shop. Keep the reward simple so your child learns to relish reading for its own sake. Book-lovers know that reading is its own reward.
Take advantage of every tool available to make books fun and encourage your child to embrace reading as a lifelong habit. I designed my printable reading log so that it could be used in conjunction with reading incentives like those offered through local bookstores and public libraries.
As teachers say, it’s never too early to raise a reader! If your child is too young to read independently, use this printable reading log to track the books you’ve read to them. Let younger children go wild with crayons, filling their reading log with colorful doodles!
To download and print my free reading log for kids, simply subscribe here. You’ll also receive my monthly email newsletter with tips for building a culture of literature at home. Let me know how your family uses the reading log by contacting me here or on social! Enjoy!