As students are finishing their final exams this spring, their thoughts shift towards sunshine, free time and absolutely no homework. The last thing on their minds might be, “Am I going to remember all this when school starts next fall?” Despite their enthusiasm for the end of the school year, summer learning loss is well documented and deserves some attention from teachers and parents. When it comes to reading skills, studies show that students from lower income families are hit the hardest by summer learning loss. While the reading skills of middle-class students often remain stagnant over the summer, those of lower income children actually deteriorate by as much as what is equivalent to one to three months of learning. The good news is that summer fun and learning can intersect when a great summer reading program is in place. Summer reading programs can be a solution that helps combat learning loss while showing students that summer can be a great time to relax with a good book. The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) has some great research and advice on how to implement effective summer learning programs for all ages. Below our some of our favorite tips from NSLA to help you create a summer reading program that will encourage your middle schoolers to keep reading all summer long:

  • Engaging Books – Books read over the summer don’t have to be academically rigorous to make a difference. After all, summer is supposed to be fun! Research by James Kim at Harvard University found that middle grade students who read more books over the summer—without regard to content—did better academically in the following fall. Middle school students have a wide variety of genres to dive into: humor, adventure, romance, graphic novels and more. Let summer be a time when students can discover how fun reading can be!
  • Adult Involvement – Students inevitably learn more with guidance from an adult than if they were left to their own devices. Kim’s research found that adult involvement is more of a necessity for younger students, but middle grade students also improved summer learning when an adult helped with reading comprehension skills. Parents can help at home by asking their child to summarize what they are reading and asking them to read their favorite parts out loud.
  • Reflection/Assessment – Asking students to reflect on their reading will help them exercise their analytic skills while also keeping them accountable. It can be as simple as a journal entry in a notebook. For students with access to the internet, setting up online forums can be a great way for middle schoolers to discuss summer books with their peers (moderated by an adult, of course). Topics of reflection could range from discussing which characters they relate to the most or imagining what happened to the characters after the book ended and writing some short fan fiction about it.

For more research and recommendations about summer learning, check out the National Summer Learning Association.

Middle School Summer Giveaway

We are partnering with Simon and Schuster to give away a whole bunch of middle grade titles for your classroom library! The giveaway includes such awesome titles as Sky Raiders, Amoung the Hidden, The Unwanteds, The Search for Wondla, Space Case and Mouseheart (we are also throwing in the first book in the Dork Diaries seriesTales From A Not-So-Fabulous Life). Check out the entire selection below and enter for your chance to win!

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann The Story Thieves by James Riley Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull
Lost in Paris by Cindy Callaghan Billy Sure, Kid Entrepreneur by Luke Sharpe Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson The Missing Found by Margaret Peterson
The Search for Wondla by Tony Diterlizzi Space Case by Stuart Gibbs Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman Mouseheart by Lisa Fiedler

Entries are limited to the United States. Contest ends 11:59 p.m. CST on May 29, 2016. Winners will be randomly selected.