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Reading's Importance Cited in Combating Summer Learning Loss

Children are encouraged to read at least 15 minutes a day during the summer. (
Children are encouraged to read at least 15 minutes a day during the summer. (
June 15, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – Students and parents in Indiana celebrate the lazy days of summer vacation, but in between trips to the pool and the inevitable video game session, educators say reading has to be made part of the routine.

According to the organization Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), students experience from a one to three-month loss of reading skills in the summer if they don't continue to read regularly.

Laura Walters, manager of programs with RIF, says reading doesn't have to start with books.

"So just giving kids the opportunity to choose the type of material that they read and keeping in mind that it doesn't always have to be a book, that it might be a magazine, it might be a newspaper, even if it's just a cereal box or signs driving down the road," she states.

Walters says younger children should read for at least 15 minutes a day during the summer and older children should read for a minimum of half an hour.

The latest ISTEP scores dipped in Indiana for reading, but school districts want them thrown out because they're based on new, more rigorous standards.

Ed DeLeon, the chief program and content officer with RIF, says regardless of a student's intended profession, reading skills are an indicator of future success.

"Literacy skills are just so important in the job market and in academia that without the proper literacy skills it's really difficult to make your way in the world," he stresses.

Walters says while an incentive program for children to read in summer can help, the best strategy is taking them to the library to let them choose the books or publications that interest them most.

"Internal motivation is probably the most important thing and knowing what drives your child,” she states. “Another big factor is, of course, making sure that the children see that their parents are reading themselves."

Organizations such as RIF, Read 2 Succeed and others often offer free summer reading books for children.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN