Overall, summer reading is a benefit to most students. Over summer, many students experience a learning loss as they don't use skills they were previously practicing daily. For students who are already struggling with reading, these losses can set students back even further. By encouraging students to continue reading over the summer, basic reading skills like inferencing can be practiced at home.
It's important for summer reading assignments to be age appropriate and as stress-free as possible for both parents and kids. If the assigned program is beginning to make your child say things like "I hate reading" it might be time to take a step back. Summer reading should involve a lot of choice for students at every age. The goal is to keep students reading and interested in reading. If your child only wants to read informational books, let them. Summer reading can help build a love of reading in your child.
As students get older, they should be assigned to read less books. The idea in the younger grades is that you are reading with your child. As kids get older, they should read more independently and read longer texts. Asking for a small project over summer is fine, but if it's taking more than a few days to complete, again it might be time to take a step back.
Be open and honest with your child's teacher when you return from summer. If you didn't read the number of books you were supposed to, don't lie about it. Talk to the teacher and explain that your child was struggling and beginning to dislike reading, so you took a step back. Openly lying doesn't alert your child's teacher to information that could possibly help your child during the school year. Also, if your child knows that you lied to their teacher, that can undermine the teacher.
Try not to stress about summer reading. It is only meant to benefit your child and shouldn't be seen as a major assessment of your child's skills or your parenting. Remember to utilize the library as often as possible and let your child lead the way in their reading interests.
Emilie is a high school English teacher with two children. She holds a Bachelors in English and a Masters in Secondary Education. After completing student teaching at an urban, Persistently Low Achieving (PLA) school, she was placed at another PLA school in the same school district. Her Ask a Teacher column can also be found over at Teaching Ain't for Heroes.