Making the Most of Summer Reading

Posted by Jamie Weng on 8/19/19 3:48 PM

Now that we’ve been out of school for a while, it’s time to dig out that summer reading list. What’s that you say? “It’s summer, kids should be able to relax and enjoy their vacation. Why do our kids have ‘homework’ over the summer?”

I’m so glad you asked. Remember when you learned to make origami birds in 4th grade? Yes, me too!  Are you able to create those birds now? Don’t be embarrassed—I was counting on you to say no. New skills that we learn but don’t use frequently fade quickly. This is why it is critical for our students, who are learning to make meaning out of this complex system called reading, to continue to practice the skills and strategies they’ve gained and avoid summer slide.


What, When, Where, and How Long

Let’s start with “What.” Some teachers will provide a suggested, or tailored booklist to each student for summer reading, while some will assign books to be read by the whole class, and other teachers may say, ‘read any and everything’ from graphic novels and magazines to environmental print, short stories, and non-fiction texts. There isn’t a prescription to be followed here, but pay close attention to your child’s interests.   Children’s motivation to read increases when they choose their own material. And, if you want to keep your child’s love of reading alive, this becomes increasingly important in middle school.

If your child is reading independently, there are a few things you can do to help.

  • Make sure the book is on their independent reading level (child can read the text with 98% accuracy or better). If you don’t know your child’s reading level, you can ask the teacher. You can find titles by reading level here.
  • Preview the book and be ready to check comprehension with a few questions of your own. Need questions? Click here.

If your child is not reading independently (and that is ok!) be sure to:

  • Ask them what type of support they’d like (reading partner, audio books, decoding strategies bookmark, or graphic organizers)?
  • Help them determine a realistic goal of pages, sections or chapters to read.
  • Preview the book and be ready to check comprehension with a few questions of your own.

So when is the best time to read? The best time is likely to be the one that fits with your family’s routine. It can be the first thing completed in the morning or while waiting for swim lessons or on the train or just before bed. But, time to read should happen consistently.

Thankfully, technology has made it so much easier for us to keep reading on the go. Technology has also afforded us with many different ways to access material. If you’re like me, reading with my eyes is very difficult in the car; however, Audible, Tales 2 Go, and other platforms allow me to read with my ears. Tales 2 Go and Learning Ally, make it both possible and convenient for students with reading difficulties to access books independently and while on the move. So, whether you’re planning a road trip, long flight, or a beach day, encourage your children to keep reading!


ID: 1377293756 © Yulia Lyubimova |


How Long? A 2018 report suggests reading for at least 15 engaged minutes will do the trick. In fact, based on the PISA, an international student assessment, students who read just 15 minutes a day reaped significant gains.Of course, the more one reads, the more growth is achieved; however, if 15 minutes is all that your schedule or child’s interest allows, that is plenty to keep summer slide at bay!


Title Image: ID 67143896 © Djedzura |

Looking for a school for your child?

Lowell School is an independent school in the Colonial Village neighborhood of Washington, DC, that offers Pre-Primary, Primary, and Middle School programs. It offers a rigorous and hands-on curriculum that nurtures each child’s natural curiosity and desire to learn, and supports the development of individual voice and self-reliance. For more information, please call 202-577-2000, email, or follow Lowell on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Jamie Weng

Written by Jamie Weng

Jamie Weng earned her undergraduate degree and MAT from American University and is currently pursuing her MEd in Literacy Leadership within Diverse Schools. She has been educating DC students in PreK through 5th grade since 2002 and joined the Lowell faculty in 2016.