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Summer Reading Can Prevent Learning Loss

Anita Peppers

Even as Indiana children enjoy their summer vacation, educational experts say it's important they find the time to sharpen their reading skills.

Suzanne Walker, children's services consultant at the Indiana State Library, says studies have shown what is sometimes called the "summer slide," the loss of reading or math skills learned during the school year.

"So much so, that when students enter school in the fall, they will be behind in terms of reading achievement from where they were when school ended," says Walker. "It's almost like they didn't even go to school those last three months."

Walker says reading daily helps a child improve both reading and writing skills. She notes that Summer Reading Programs are a great option to get children excited about reading, and libraries across the state offer programs that combine educational and fun activities for kids of all ages.

When it comes to reading at home, Walker says it should be a positive experience. She says allowing a child to choose their own reading material is important, especially for reluctant readers.

"If they feel like they don't like reading, you can try to introduce them to comic books or graphic novels," she says. "Audio books can be really wonderful - you can listen to them in the car as a family. Non-fiction is just as great as fiction is."

Parents also can have a big impact in helping a child to view reading as a pleasure and not a chore.

"A great thing for them to do is to model reading in the home - so, if Mom and Dad are reading, kids are going to see that and they're going to want to do that as well," adds Walker.

A recent survey of 1,000 parents found only one in three read with their child every night, and half said their children spend more time with TV or video games than books.