Preventing Summer Reading Loss: What Really Works?

Hello Royal Readers! This week we are discussing the book Summer Reading by Richard Allington and Anne Mc-Gill-Frazen. Yesterday Andrea shared the what the research says about summer reading and economically disadvantaged children. You can read that post {here}. Today, we'll focus on chapter three.

What Have We Learned about Addressing Summer Reading Loss?

This chapter takes an in-depth look at summer reading programs and the potential they demonstrated in addressing summer reading loss. Each summer program was conducted as a study with a treatment group and a control group.

In the first study, students from high poverty elementary schools were invited to attend spring book fairs.

The project targeted books that students could read at their independent level (99% accuracy with phrasing and expression).

Additionally, the books fit into four broad categories: popular series, popular culture, culturally relevant, and curriculum relevant.

Children were given free rein to select the books they wanted to read during the summer.

Overall this program demonstrated that providing self-selected summer reading materials improves reading achievement.

Another study was conducted with summer school students.  One group of the students participated in a summer reading club for 30-60 minutes of the day while others did not.

The reading club participants gained more in reading levels, reading accuracy, and fluency than their counterparts.

In yet another study, books were mailed out to students weekly over the summer. Prior to the start of summer, one group of students participated lessons at school that modeled oral reading and comprehension strategies.

Results of the study showed that students in this group scored significantly higher than the control groups.

What Does It Mean?

The findings of these studies suggest that voluntary summer reading may help close the rich/poor reading achievement gap. By increasing the amount of voluntary reading children did over the summer months summer reading loss was eliminated and growth was made.

Discussion Question

How could information presented in this chapter be used to improve the summer reading program at your school?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.  

Stop back each day this week for additional information on Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap.



  1. I love the idea of sending the kids a book each week in the summer. Not only would they be getting something new to read, but they would LOVE getting mail every week. I might need to start collecting now...

    A Very Curious Class

    1. I think it is a great idea, too. Think of the excitement that this program would create. I can imagine kids just waiting for the mail to arrive so they can see what surprises await them! Time to start collecting books and $ for postage!

  2. I love how you organized this post, Wendy, and I love the options of summer program types too. Our school started a summer reading camp last summer in partnership with a local college. We invited all students in the bottom quartile as well as those who might not otherwise go to camp. It has served several purposes....getting books home daily, increased engagement, and modeling opportunities. Plus...lots of fun, I think wears on to something.

    1. Wow, I love this idea. Daily books, increased engagement, modeling, and FUN too! What kid wouldn't enjoy it?! I'll have to mention this idea to our administrators. Thanks for sharing. :)

  3. These are a lot like our summer school model. We send a book home each week with activities and literacy games. The students seem to like it, and those who attend have less summer slide than those who don't. Now to find a way to get every student involved!


    1. We don't have summer school for elementary students at our school, but that would be a possibility for our middle and high school students. :) And yes, I think it is easier to manage on a small scale. Finding a way to reach all students is much more difficult.

  4. We don't have a summer reading program at our school... But maybe there's a way to invite the lowest kids in during our ELL Summer School so they can get a new book each day or every couple days from a selection we could have available... Something to consider for next year.

    The Land of I Can

    1. Our school handles summer reading in differently each year. For example, one time we chose the One Book, One School concept, another year we sent reading bingo boards home to students to mark off their reading and earn prizes, and this year we have a summer reading blog that students are using to share about their books.

      Some of the programs are more successful than others. Interest seems to fizzle if we do one thing for too long.

      I ask my intervention students to select 10 Reading A-Z books to take home to keep them reading over the summer. Ideally I’d love to get a mobile library out to their neighborhoods so they can choose real books instead of the paper copies, but I need someone to fund me. ;)