Summer-Reading Loss Part 2


Anne McGill-Franzen and Richard Allington are the current gurus of summer reading research and are the authors of section 2 of this text.  They title there section “Children Will Read During the Summer If We Provide Access, Choice, and Support.”

Here is what the research says about summer-reading loss:

  • Kim (2004) found reading just a few books over the summer (four or five) can stem the loss in reading achievement. p. 16
  • When school is not in session, the learning resources of the school are turned off – like a faucet.  Typically, students from low-socioeconomic communities lose two months of reading achievement during the summer months and students from more advantaged communities gain a month during the summer (Cooper et al. 1996).  p.17
  • The two-month summer loss in achievement would accumulate over time and account for most of the rich/poor achievement gap, a gap that is now twice as large as the gap between minority and white achievement (Duncan and Murnane, 2011). p. 18
  • Parent income is now nearly as strong a predictor of achievement as parental education and a more powerful predictor of achievement than race (Reardon, 2011). p. 19
  • Halle, Kurtz-Costes, and Mahoney (1997) concluded that providing poor children with books may be the most critical thing a school can do. p. 20
  • When children were give the opportunity to choose books, reading gains were almost double those of children whose books were selected by someone else (Lindsay, 2013).

Other great quotes:

  • What if all of you reading material was selected by, or restricted by people who believed they knew what was best for you.  Wouldn’t that be awful?  Wouldn’t you resent it?  And isn’t is possible that you might begin to associate books with bad things like drudgery and subjugation? (Pilkey, 2011, p. 29)
  • All the supports for summer reading that we’ve explained are based on that essential force: motivation.  Motivation is not a switch that stays on but a fire that must be fed. p. 40

Most of this section described the authors very successful book fairs where they had 400 to 600 titles and allowed students to choose 12 to 15 free books prior to the  summer.  They found that doing this for 3 years significantly improved reading achievement on high-stakes state tests.  The effect size was similar to students participating in 3 years of summer school.

So, what should we do?

  • Instead of putting a booklist in students’ hands…put BOOKS in their hands. (p. 19)
  • Allow STUDENTS to pick the books to read over the summer and let them KEEP them. (p. 21)

Tomorrow I will reflect on the last section of this book which discusses in detail what we can do to promote summer reading.



One thought on “Summer-Reading Loss Part 2

  1. Laura B says:

    “Motivation is not a switch that stays on but a fire that must be fed.” MIC DROP!

    Love the ideas you pulled out here!


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