3 Tips & Takeaways to Fight the Summer Slide

Group reading on couches
Masthead Waves

Now more than ever, students need support to boost their literacy skills and get back on track. A recent study from McKinsey found that, on average, K-12 students are four months behind in reading, and students from marginalized backgrounds are often falling even further behind. Summer is critical when learning loss and inequities can be cemented or remedied.


Summer reading is a proven way to keep students engaged with literacy and social-emotional learning during their months away from school. It's never too early to start planning a reading challenge to encourage students and their families to pick up a book. In this blog, we're looking ahead to summer reading with a few quick tips and takeaways to help fight the summer slide.



Foster community engagement

Summer is a great time to engage with your community. Partnering with local organizations, the public library, or prominent community members can help spice up your reading challenge and reach even more students and families. It can also connect readers, especially those from under-served populations, with resources and experiences.


In our latest Summer Reading Report, we discovered inspiring stories from librarians who successfully collaborated with neighboring schools for their summer reading initiatives. By leveraging Beanstack's innovative tandem feature, public libraries, and schools seamlessly linked their Beanstack platforms, enabling readers to engage effortlessly in library and school reading challenges. The outcome? A remarkable surge of over 200% in total minutes logged, alongside a remarkable 100% increase in days and books read. Additionally, the report unveiled numerous effective strategies for crafting immersive, reader-focused summer reading programs, encompassing reward suggestions and design innovations.

Focus less on assessment levels and more on fun

Our mid-year survey discovered that many Beanstack librarians and media specialists are less concerned about how students score on reading tests and more about how they feel about reading. “I am trying to show students that reading is rewarding and step away from testing the outcomes for reading,” explains Angie Tucker, a media specialist at Camden Junior High School in Tennessee. “As adult readers, we are not tested. I want [my students] to be real readers.” 


The positive impact of reading for fun is well documented. Studies show that academic and personal gains follow when schools build a culture of reading. A fun and engaging summer reading challenge will show kids how cool independent reading can be, leading to a lifelong impact—not just a quick fix. Play up the joy in summer reading with free choice reading, attainable goals, and enrichment activities.


Make it easy for teachers to participate

Librarians know that getting teachers on board is crucial for any reading challenge. But after two years of navigating the coronavirus pandemic, many teachers are burned out. “The teachers are overwhelmed with trying to make up for lost ground due to Covid,” notes Donna Shigezawa, a librarian at Salt Lake Elementary School in Hawaii, “so participation varies from class to class in terms of how much the teacher is encouraging the students to log their minutes.” 


Educators are juggling a lot right now, so making it as easy as possible for them to participate in summer reading is essential. Our Summer Reading Challenge templates come with premade marketing materials (including newsletter templates and flyers to send to parents), so teachers can get involved without adding another task to their overloaded to-do list. They can also track their own reading and participate right alongside students.


It may not feel like summer yet, but the end of the school year is coming up fast. Now is the time to start thinking about summer programs to help your students and their families stay on track and avoid summer learning loss. We hope these tips and tricks will help you launch a summer reading challenge that keeps your students’ skills sharp—while building a culture of reading in your community that will last a lifetime.  


Need Help With Summer Reading?

Our team would love to connect with you and discuss how to roll out a summer reading challenge with your students. Contact us today to see how Beanstack can support your community this summer and beyond.

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