Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Summer Reading

Like many teachers, one of the things I love most about summer is the opportunity to catch up on my reading. Actually, I read all the time, so summer brings the opportunity to read even more and for longer periods of time (on the beach with a cold drink!). Unfortunately, for many students, summer brings a significant achievement loss due to lack of summer reading. In a new book titled, Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap, authors Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen (2013) state that summer reading loss accounts for roughly 80% of the rich/poor reading achievement gap.

Poor children do not read because they have much more restricted access to books at home and in their communities (Neuman & Celano, 2012). However, in a recent study we demonstrated that simply providing children from low income families with self-selected books for summer reading eliminated summer reading loss and spurred reading gains comparable to those experienced by middle class children (Allington, McGill-Franzen, Camilli, et al.,2010) (p. 10).

In the following video, Richard Allington talks about excellent teachers and summer reading loss.

Fortunately, there are steps teachers can take to alleviate summer reading loss.
  • Distribute books to children from low-income families. There are many ways to find funding for purchasing books to give to children to read over the summer such as those listed here.
  • Give students choice in the books they read over the summer. Self-selection is a powerful motivator. Read this blog post by fourth grade teacher Colby Sharp on how he used a “speed dating” approach to help students find books they want to read over the summer
  • Provide information to parents about summer reading opportunities at the local library and encourage students to participate. Scholastic also has a summer reading challenge for students.
  • Provide opportunities for students to discuss books with each other through online book discussions. Read this blog post about how one school used the social media site Edmoto for summer reading book discussions.


Allington, R., McGill-Franzen, A. (2013). Summer reading: Closing the rich/poor reading achievement gap. Newark: IRA.

Allington, R., McGill-Franzen, A., Camilli, G., Williams, L., Graff, J., Zeig, J., Zmach, C. & Nowak, R. (2010). Addressing summer reading setback among economically disadvantaged elementary students. Reading Psychology, 31(5), 411–427.

Neuman, S. B., & Celano, D. C. (2012). Giving our children a fighting chance: Poverty, illiteracy, and the development of information capital. New York: Teachers College Press.