School’s out, summer reading begins

Published 9:49 am Tuesday, June 21, 2011

By JANEY PATTY / Guest Columnist

With the beginning of summer upon us, school children are excited about more free time, which is great! However, young readers who do not read over the summer can lose skills and actually return to school in August reading at a lower level than they currently are at the close of this school year. It is so very important for children to read over the summer break. Parents can encourage reading without going to great expense by joining the public library! Public libraries in Shelby County sponsor summer reading programs to help make reading a fun-filled activity for our children.

According to Anne McGill-Franzen and Richard Allington from the University of Florida, lower-achieving readers are often simply not interested in reading voluntarily. I think this could be explained fairly easily…if reading is a struggle, why would a child want to spend free-time doing it? McGill-Franzen and Allington believe that “children don’t just need books; they need the right books.” Children should be provided with books that match their skill levels and their interests.

Their research suggests that if children do have opportunities to read and discuss books on topics they select themselves at their skill level, they will develop more background knowledge and build their independent reading, which will keep them engaged. In other words, success will build more success! I tell students that they should not read anything they don’t want to read over the summer, but that they should find something they like to read and do it! Every single day!

I believe an additional option for a reluctant reader is for parents to read aloud to their child. Reading books aloud to a child can build interest because parents can read books that are above the child’s reading level. This can function as a motivator to work hard in order to improve reading skills. It can also build a child’s vocabulary and comprehension. In my opinion, this should be done in addition to having a child read books independently that are on his or her interest and skill level.

I hope the school children of Shelby County have a wonderful and safe summer vacation — one that includes many adventures, some of which can be found in the pages a book!

Janey Patty is a counselor at Valley Intermediate School.