How summer reading programs fight the “summer slide”

As the temperatures rise and the schools release for the summer, it’s a time of excitement for kids across the country. However, it is also a time of potential loss of critical gains made during the school year in both math and reading in what has become known as the “summer slide.”

Research spanning decades confirms that children lose about one month of instructional knowledge over this period, with middle schoolers potentially experiencing a loss of up to two years of reading achievement over time. What’s more, Scholastic’s Kids and Family Reading Report indicates that only about half of parents are aware of the learning loss that occurs during the summer break.

While more recent research has spurred debate in the field regarding the correlation of summer learning loss with educational inequities, the data shows that test scores across multiple assessments flatten or drop during the summer. While continued research is needed to understand who is most vulnerable to summer learning losses, declining rates of reading for pleasure among children along with the number of children and teenagers who report not reading at all over the summer months calls for targeted efforts to counteract these trends in order to foster a love for reading among our youth and promote literacy skills.

Summer reading programs are a critical tool in preventing summer learning loss, promoting literacy and community engagement, and continue to be the most popular COVID-19 academic recovery strategy offered by school districts across the country.

The Fulton County Library’s “Adventure Starts at Your Library” Summer Reading Program offers themed events, book clubs, and reading challenges throughout the summer months for children, teens, and adults. In 2023 alone, over 10,000 participants collectively read over 67,000 books. The program not only encourages reading but also fosters parent-child engagement, as families visit the library together to select books and participate in program activities. “Because our Summer Reading program is open to all ages, it promotes family-bonding and creates an opportunity for parents to model behavior for their children,” says Marcia Divack, Branch Group Administrator and Youth Services Coordinator for the Fulton County Library System. The Library’s summer reading program increases access to books, offers fun and free programming, and supports the development of critical literacy skills during the summer months.

Summer Reading fun starts this weekend with kick-off events at most Fulton Library Branches including storytelling, book signings, King of Pops and even a meet-and-greet with Bluey! Check with your local Fulton County Library Branch for their unique kick-off events and programming.

Whether it’s through your local library’s summer reading program or by creating your own reading challenges at home, let’s work together to unlock the endless possibilities that reading has to offer and ensure that every child has the opportunity to thrive academically and beyond. Let’s make this summer a season of reading, learning, and exploration for all!

The Fulton Library System’s Summer Reading program is made possible by the Sartain Lanier Family Foundation, the Lewis H. Beck Educational Foundation and our many individual donors.

“Because our Summer Reading program is open to all ages, it promotes family-bonding and creates an opportunity for parents to model behavior for their children.”

1202 Puppets at the Summer Reading kick-off at the Central Library (June 5, 2024)

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library Foundation

For over 35 years, the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library Foundation has worked in partnership with the Fulton County Library System to secure the System’s future as an indispensable community resource through advocacy, raising public awareness, and generating private funding.