Studies show that children can lose up to two months’ of reading performance over the summer months, and research suggests that the unstructured activity of reading for fun will do more to keep children’s minds sharp and engaged than weeks of maths and science holiday homework.
Colleen Williams, librarian at Canadian International School of Hong Kong (CDNIS), says: “Reading is like playing an instrument - if you don't do it for several months, you get rusty and stagnate or even decline. Studies show that kids who don't read over the summer can lose reading and language skills, often referred to as the 'summer slide'.
“The kids who do read over the summer gain language proficiency, including comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. That makes sense because the more you read, the better you get at reading and language! Plus it's a great opportunity to encourage the joy of reading. Kids have more free time to get lost in great books!”
And Akina Lam, librarian at ESF’s King George V School, adds: “Summer holiday is a time where students can start binge-reading all the series that they enjoy and finish them in one go. Summer reading also means students can choose what they read and research says, ‘Access to books and the ability to choose what you want to read are the two factors consistently linked to both reading achievement and the development of intrinsic reading motivation.’.”
There’s growing awareness of why reading really matters. According to research from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report 2018, 80% of children aged six to 17 years agree that summer reading will help them during the school year. The survey of students in the US by the global children’s publisher also found that, on average, children read eight books over the summer – but this varies widely by age.
To encourage their children to read, 56% of parents are taking books with them on vacation, 45% put limits on screen time, and 44% build reading into their child's daily summer routine.
So what should your children be reading this summer? Colleen Williams at CDNIS says: “Our biggest recommendation is allowing kids to choose what they want to read - this empowers them as readers.
“Take them to the library or bookstore and let them browse and select books. Have them ask their friends and family for book recommendations - this will help them create a reading community and start conversations around books. They'll be more enthusiastic, motivated and engaged readers if they select what they read.
Giving them a list of required books makes reading a chore. Giving them the power to choose makes reading a gift and helps create lifelong readers.”