As summer begins, a well-documented trend emerges among school age children - the well-known "summer slump." During the summer months, children typically don’t read every day – as they do in class. That decrease in daily reading time leads to diminished reading proficiency and ultimately learning loss from the previous school year.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, students can lose up to 20 percent of their academic gains from the previous school year during the summer hiatus. This phenomenon underscores the importance of addressing the gap in learning opportunities outside of the traditional academic calendar.

In a study published by the Brookings Institution, we learn that the impact of the summer slump disproportionately affects children from low-income households, widening the educational achievement gap. With limited access to enrichment activities and resources, these children are particularly vulnerable to experiencing learning loss during the summer break.

Research from Scholastic indicates that only 17 percent of parents believe their children spend adequate time reading during the summer. Yet, many parents are not actively working to mitigate the lack of reading time in summer – nor do they know how to do so. There needs to be increased awareness and support for summer reading programs – and there are many strategies parents can implement at home to create enjoyable family reading time every day.

By fostering a culture of continuous learning year-round, families and communities can strive to counteract the detrimental effects of the summer slump and promote equitable access to educational opportunities for all children year-round, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Implementing any number of strategies, parents can help mitigate the effects of the summer slump and keep children engaged in learning all year.

  1. Set aside dedicated reading time each day: Designate a specific time each day for reading — whether it's in the morning after breakfast, at night before bedtime, or anywhere in between.
  2. Visit the local library and discover summer programs: Many libraries offer summer reading programs tailored to different age groups. These programs often include incentives such as prizes or certificates for reaching reading goals. Additionally, libraries host storytelling sessions, book clubs, or other events that make reading fun and interactive.
  3. Explore online resources for interactive learning activities: There are numerous educational apps that offer interactive learning activities across various subjects, from math and science to language arts and coding. Online reading resources have the added benefit of bringing the most current publications to young readers. Explore platforms like The Juice and NYT for Kids over the summer.
  4. Encourage participation in educational camps or workshops: Look for summer camps or workshops that focus on topics your child enjoys or wants to explore further. These programs can provide hands-on learning experiences, foster creativity, and allow children to socialize with peers who share similar interests.
  5. Incorporate educational games or challenges into daily routines: Turn learning into a game by incorporating educational challenges or puzzles into everyday activities. For example, you could create a scavenger hunt based on nature facts or challenge your child to solve math problems while cooking together in the kitchen.
  6. Book Club: Start a family book club where everyone reads the same book and discusses it together.
  7. Reading Nook: Set up a cozy and inviting reading nook with comfortable seating and good lighting.
  8. Story Time: Have daily or weekly story time where you read aloud to your kids.
  9. Themed Reading: Choose books based on a theme, like space, animals, or fairy tales, to make reading more exciting.
  10. Book Swaps: Organize a book swap with friends or neighbors to exchange books and discover new ones.
  11. Interactive Books: Look for interactive books with flaps, pop-ups, or activities to keep younger kids engaged.
  12. Audiobooks: Use audiobooks for road trips or quiet time. They’re a great way to enjoy stories together.
  13. Read and Explore: Pair reading with activities, like reading a book about nature and then going on a nature hike.
  14. Reading Rewards: Create a reading rewards chart where kids can earn stickers or small prizes for each book they read.
  15. Book-Themed Crafts: Do crafts related to the books your kids are reading to enhance their understanding and enjoyment.
  16. Story Writing: Encourage your kids to write their own stories or create a comic book.
  17. Reading Picnic: Have a reading picnic at a park where everyone brings their favorite book.
  18. Guest Readers: Invite friends, family, or even local authors to read to your kids.
  19. Series Books: Get them hooked on a book series, which encourages them to keep reading to find out what happens next.
  20. Read Everywhere: Encourage reading in different places, like in the backyard, at the beach, or in a fort made of blankets.
  21. Book-inspired Adventures: After reading a book, plan an adventure related to it, like visiting a historical site mentioned in the story.

Literacy deficiency is a widespread issue across the country. The US Department of Education found that around 54 percent of school children are reading below grade level. Additionally, about 130 million American adults are reading below a 6th graders level. Parents must create and foster an environment where reading is celebrated and enjoyed and is part of the family’s daily routine.

About the author

Lilli Montague is an education expert at The Juice Learning, an interactive learning platform that helps to instill a life-long love of reading in kids. The Juice Learning’s team of award-winning educators and journalists produce daily professional-grade content, overlaid on a technology platform designed to enhance reading development and engagement. Each article on The Juice is written at different reading levels so that content can be tailored to meet students where they are, regardless of ability – and as your reading skills progress, the Juice adjusts your reading level and grows with you.