Summer vacation! A time to play, stay up past bedtime and sleep late, swim, watch movies, host cook-outs, and…read. Wait, did you say read? I thought this was summer vacation!
It is sometimes hard for children to understand the importance of summer reading. Studies show that children who don’t read over the summer experience summer learning loss. Children who read for fun often outperform children who don’t once they return to school.
So what does it mean to “read for fun”? I remember in high school and college, longing for the summers when I could read whatever I wanted. At that time I was in my “spy versus spy” stage of pleasure reading. Lots of Robert Ludlum and Ken Follett, and although well written and entertaining, these books hardly qualify as great literature. By the time the academic year commenced, my brain was well rested and ready to tackle Dante and Voltaire.
Stephen D. Krashen shares his thoughts on reading for pleasure in his book “The Power of Reading”:
“When children read for pleasure, when they get ‘hooked on books,’ they acquire,
involuntarily and without conscious effort, nearly all of the so-called ‘language
skills’ many people are so concerned about: they will become adequate readers,
acquire a large vocabulary, develop the ability to understand and use complex
grammatical constructions, develop a good writing style, and become good (but
not necessarily perfect) spellers. Although free voluntary reading alone will not
ensure attainment of the highest levels of literacy, it will at least ensure an
acceptable level. Without it, I suspect that children simply do not have a chance.”
Summer reading is candy for the brain. If you allow your children to eat all the candy they want, they will eventually crave fruits and vegetables. So don’t be so quick to dismiss Rainbow Magic and Captain Underpants. As long as they are reading and fully engaged with the material, they will develop not only the skills needed for academic success but the ability to differentiate between candy and veggies.
Krashen, S. (1993). The Power of Reading. Englewood, Col.: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.