[From the vaults at stabenow.com, Oct 4, 2010 ]
Summer Must-Read for Kids? Any Book
By By TARA PARKER-POPE
Published: August 2, 2010
A report says that for some children, the reading skills lost over the summer represent about two months’ worth of schooling.
…the price for keeping the books closed is a high one. Several studies have documented a “summer slide” in reading skills once school lets out each spring. The decline in reading and spelling skills are greatest among low-income students, who lose the equivalent of about two months of school each summer, according to the National Summer Learning Association, an education advocacy group. And the loss compounds each year…
The study, financed by the federal Department of Education, tracked the reading habits and test stores of more than 1,300 Florida children from 17 low-income schools. Most of the children were poor enough to receive discounted or free school lunches…
Children who had received free books posted significantly higher test scores than the children who received activity books. The effect, 1/16th of a standard deviation in test scores, was equivalent to a child attending three years of summer school, according to the report to be published in September in the journal Reading Psychology. The difference in scores was twice as high among the poorest children in the study…
One of the most notable findings was that children improved their reading scores even though they typically weren’t selecting the curriculum books or classics that teachers normally assigned for summer reading. That conclusion confirms other studies suggesting that children learn best when they are allowed to select their own books.
Make books available to kids, and let ’em pick their own, i.e., don’t force them to read I Cannot Tell a Lie: George Washington and the Lingering Influence of M. domestica because it’ll be good for them to know about the father of their country. They’ll learn more (and have a better shot at developing a reading habit) from The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.