reversing that summer reading slide

going to the free book store

"Access to books is the key to reversing the [summer] reading slide." 
 - Dr. Richard Allington and Dr. Anne McGill-Franzen.

Last month I attended a Kindergarten Summit that focused on research proven strategies to help struggling readers thrive.

Drs Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Granzen were keynote speakers.

One (of the many) things that jumped out at me was their research about summer reading loss.

Students who read during the summer break gain a month of reading proficiency, whereas students who do not read, lose 2-3 months of  reading skill.

Allington and McGill-Franzen did a 3 year study comparing the reading scores of students who attended summer school and students who were allowed to choose 10-12 books to take home and read during the summer break.  These books were chosen by the students from a book fair (lots of choice - pop culture books were favourites) and were sent home with the students on the last day of school.

The students who were given books to read had at least the same reading gain as the students who attended summer school.

Read about this study here or here.

I mentioned this study to our school librarian - who, like all librarians, is reasonably fanatical about getting books to kids and getting kids reading.

She was a woman on a mission.  She tracked down boxes of books (second hand, but in good shape)  from libraries that were (sadly) closing. And we set up a free book store on the second last day of school.

There were books in piles around the perimeter of our multi-purpose room.

The kidlets  could each choose 5 books to take home for the summer.  We encouraged them to shop carefully - to choose books that looked interesting to them - not the first 5 books they came across.

When they were finished shopping, the books were labelled,

and bagged

for them to take home.

We know that we are not replicating Allington and McGill-Franzen's study.  Our kidlets took home 5 books, not 10-12.  Our books were new-to-us rather than brand new, and we did not have any pop culture titles.  

But the kidlets did get to choose their books.  And choice is such an important motivator in getting kids to read. 

The hope is that the kidlets read and reread the books over the summer.  That they trade books with their friends.  And that they bring them back to school in September so that we can put them back in the boxes and  use them in the Free Book Store next June.  

(But if the books don't come back to school, there won't be knots in anyone's knickers - we trust that they are being read somewhere, and will go on the hunt for some more new-to-us good books.)


  1. Those are scary numbers!
    Love that your librarian did that. I always worry about the summer loss, too.

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

  2. This is a great idea Sandi. When I worked in Chester I always tried to give my kids a few books as gifts but I love the idea of letting the children pick the books they get to keep. I am going to try to set something like this up at the school next year. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Mrs. Goff's Pre-K Tales

  3. Wonderful! I was inspired by the conference too and decided to offer an opportunity to our school Kindergarten families that do not use the library to shop after school the last day for fifteen books from my classroom home reading book collection. They are coming back the afternoon July 30th for Brownies and Book Exchange. Like your book program, the children did the shopping. They loved finding familiar books and for the boys they were so excited to choose non-fiction. We ran a book sale during the last two weeks to help purchase some additional used books and a teacher weeded her personal collection and donated about twenty books. My goal is zero per cent summer reading loss.


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