Tips for reading this summer to keep student literacy momentum going!

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 Palliser Literacy Coach Bev Smith was featured on The River 107.7 at 6:40 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. July 9 as the radio station's Wellness Wednesday feature touched on literacy and summer reading. Thanks to The River, here is a recording, in case you missed it. Click here to listen.


Your son or daughter has made huge strides in reading ability this school year but is at real risk of losing some of that progress this summer. You can reduce that risk by keeping reading going during the summer break, says a Palliser Regional Schools literacy expert.

Bev Smith, a Palliser literacy coach, says summer reading loss is a real phenomenon. Students who are learning English and those who find reading difficult are especially at risk of losing ground in July and August.

Fortunately, she says, the loss can be limited by encouraging and giving kids opportunities to read this summer as part of their leisure routine.

Reading even seven to 10 books over the summer break can make all the difference, she says.

“The key is to ensure summer reading is fun for the reader,” Smith says. “This isn’t school work. It’s about encouraging kids to find reading materials that are of interest to them and setting them loose on it.”

Other tips:

  • Be a model for your child. Read for your own enjoyment, whether magazines, books or other materials you enjoy and talk about what you read and what you enjoyed about it.
  • Make it a social activity. Have a conversation about the book that doesn’t sound like a question-and-answer worksheet. What’s interesting, funny or sad about it? Would you want to make a movie out of it? Who would star as the main character?
  • Don’t judge what your child is reading. Maybe a book about a superhero isn’t your idea of fun, but it might be your child’s. If an insider’s guide to a video game is what your child wants to read, encourage it. Respecting choice is key. As an adult, would you rather read a book or magazine you selected or one someone else picked for you?
  • Don’t push too hard for your child to read a “challenging” book. If it’s too challenging, your child may spend hours staring at pages, but not reading. The book should be at a level your child can read independently. Use the five-finger test. Have the child read a page and hold up one finger for each word he/she is unsure of. In a chapter book, if there are four or five words on that page the reader doesn’t understand, it may not be the right book for him/her. In a book for a young reader with very few words, even one or two unknown words could indicate the book is too challenging.
  • For the youngest of readers, make time to read with your child. Make this reading together time a treasured part of the daily ritual.

Smith recommends checking out programs at your local public library. Often public libraries offer free programs that encourage summer reading and it is an opportunity for children to talk with other children about what they are reading. As adults, we build our “next read” list from recommendations. Children do the same.

She says reading just 20 minutes a day can make a huge difference to students. The student who reads 20 minutes a day, will read an estimated 1.8 million words during the school year. The student who reads just five minutes a day, encounters just 282,000 words in that same time.