Involved parents bridge the summer reading gap

by Sandra Cook

In a letter to parents, N.C. State Superintendent June Atkinson wrote, “Have you ever heard of the term summer loss? This is not a seasonal diet or exercise program, but a troubling trend in which students lose valuable literacy skills when they stop reading during their break from school.

Low-income children are especially susceptible to this problem because they often go home to an environment where there are very few books or other reading resources. As a result, by the end of fifth grade, these students are approximately 2 ½ years behind their more affluent peers in terms of reading ability, primarily because of summer loss.” (

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction offers resources to promote summer reading:

Public libraries across the country also sponsor summer reading programs. Contact your local public libraries to obtain a library card and find out about read alouds and other programming at the library aimed at children and their parents:

Most public libraries take part in a collaborative summer library program: The 2013 themes are “Dig into Reading” and “Beneath the Surface.”

View Newspaper in Education features based on the 2013 themes:

summer reading gap pic


Pender County’s Chris Wirszyla passes on his and his father’s love of baseball to his twins, Alex and Bella, through a children’s book.


Search the International Reading Association website for additional information about closing the summer reading gap:

Consult teachers and media specialists at your children’s schools. Ask for titles of books that your children are likely to enjoy. Read aloud newspapers and magazines and discuss what interests or concerns you. Talk about what you view or listen to. Keep a list of new words that you find in what you read and hear.

In all your efforts, follow your children’s lead. Find books and other reading materials that engage them. Have them keep journals about what they read or their everyday experiences. Simple things parents can do with their children further learning, and address students’ summer reading gap.