Webinar Recap: Student Summer Bookworms

Learn about the effectiveness of literacy reform and how to help disadvantaged students become productive readers.
May 2019, Volume 42, Issue 9

During a recent webinar, James Kim, professor of Education at Harvard University, spoke with assistant principals about the Reads for Summer Learning Program. The project works to improve reading comprehension by fostering children’s engagement with books over the summer.

Challenges in Literacy

The gap in reading skills between low- and middle-income children is large at school entry and expands during the elementary grades and beyond.

“By the start of high school, low-income students are nearly 5 years behind high-income students in reading comprehension,” says Kim. “Although summer loss contributes to the [socioeconomic status] gap in reading, recent large-scale center-based summer reading programs have produced null effects on reading comprehension.”

With more than 10 years of research, showed these two key findings:

  1. Reading engagement is critical. That might seem obvious, but what does actual reading engagement mean? According to Kim, children are “engaged” with books when they are motivated to read them on their own and when they read in ways that increase their reading comprehension.
  2. Summer reading loss is cumulative so we need long-term solutions, especially in high poverty schools.

Remedies for Summer Reading Loss

We can remedy summer reading loss by following the ABCs—access, books, and comprehension.

  1. Plain and simple, students need access to books at home.
  2. But these books shouldn’t be on any topic. Work to match children with books that are aligned with their reading level and interests.
  3. Develop comprehension routines that children learn during end-of-year classroom lessons and easily can transfer to home reading over the summer break.

Check out the webinar and full slide presentation for a step-by-step breakdown of how to implement these practices in your school.

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