Reading really is the key to academic success. Reading is so beneficial; it increases vocabulary, fluency, writing and verbal skills, knowledge, imagination, and improves concentration. I am so glad that GPCA has set aside April 8-26 to emphasize reading. The read-a-thon is a big event at the school with a lot of great activities to get the students excited about reading. We have continued the read-a-thon year after year because it is working! The students as well as the teachers are thinking about it, talking about it, and there is an excitement about reading. From a teacher’s perspective, I see the benefits. With all the extra reading, student’s reading grades improve. They are reading more smoothly and start picking out chapter books which are more challenging. The students often continue this “habit” of reading more for the rest of the school year. But, what happens after May 31st? Hopefully, the excitement toward reading will not end. I for one want the excitement to last. I want to keep fitting in time here and there in our busy schedules to read. Not just until the end of the school year, (and it will be here soon) but all summer long. There are huge benefits to students who read over the summer. This is especially true with students who have English as their second language. Over the summer, they may not have as much exposure to English. Reading in English will help them retain what they have learned and the transition in the fall will not be as difficult.
Many studies have been done to support what I have personally experienced as a teacher at GPCA for 12 years. Experts say reading even as little as five minutes a day would help students retain what they had learned during the school year. Wow! Just five minutes a day! The U.S. Department of Education says, “Reading five books a summer will help kids stay on the learning track and reduce summer-learning loss. Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan put it this way: ‘The key to stopping summer learning loss is reading. If a child reads a minimum of five books between June and August, they will be on track for success next school year. We need every child to read at least five books this summer and every adult to help.’” If you break it down, thirteen weeks of summer vacation means you have about two and one half weeks to read each book. If you pick books on your student’s grade level, even an average reader spending five minutes a day (that’s about one and one half hours per book), it would be possible. And, if they read more than that, it is possible that they would even make reading gains. I always send the books home that we complete in class and encourage the students to reread them. The stories are great and geared to their grade level. My favorite book to encourage them to read is the “Primary Bible Reader”. The stories are straight from the Bible and five minutes a day would be a great devotional time for them. Or, start planning now to take your students on a weekly trip to the public library. I know that Multnomah County Library has a great summer reading program including prizes they can win. Then, encourage your child to read at least five minutes a day, or set the example and read with them. Even reading to them is a great way to spend time with them and can help develop their reading skills. I know that when you’re reading a good book, the hard part will be reading only five minutes a day. You’ll want to read more!