We caught up with experienced school librarian Stephanie Galvan Russell, MLS who shared her suggestions for helping students stay engaged with reading over the summer.
Q: Do you have any suggestions on how to prevent the summer slide?
A: As summer draws upon us, we know as educators that WE will continue our own kind of reading and learning over the break. Whether it be reading for pleasure, attending professional development, or reading PD books, we are doing something to continue learning. Our students, however, are not quite the same. In a 2007 Johns Hopkins study, research found that students with less access to books and learning opportunities experience a learning gap over the years (Alexander et al.). In order to prevent this, we must offer opportunities for our students to have access to books.
What can we do? Watch our quick video outlining 5 tips how to prevent the summer slide.
1. Availability for students over the summer. Consider offering a day where students apply for their library cards at school. I worked with a librarian in Harlingen CISD, Vilia Garcia, who helped her high school students obtain library cards over September so that they would have access to public library resources.
2. Share! You could create a game (like book bingo!) that students can return at the start of the year or share online. For secondary students, create a hashtag that students can use to share what they are reading on social media, #HCISDSummerReads or Leander ISD’s #SR4A (Summer Reading For All) for example.
3. Offer library access! Leander ISD Library Services allows one school library to be kept open over the summer for three hours per day, twice a week. The different schools in the district send over books for different levels (High schools and middle schools send a cart of popular books before their year is over.) and students can check out books, enjoy story-time or work in a makerspace (Calzada).
4. Allow summer checkout! In LISD, students with cleared library accounts are allowed to check out 10 books before they leave for summer break. Their summer break is about ten weeks long so this would provide one book per week for each student. (Calzada) If neither summer check-out nor keeping a library open works for you, consider increasing your e-book access and teach students and parents how to access e-books over the summer.
5. Go to THEM! In Harlingen CISD, librarians drive a book-mobile to elementary schools over the summer and offer FREE books to students. The bookmobile visits a different school and main areas of town each day. The schedule is sent out via flyers before the year ends and over social media over the summer. Books are donated to HCISD through a literacy program, but you might also think about asking your community for donations. (Berrones)
Happy Summer and Happy Reading!
Alexander, Karl L., et al. “Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap.” American Sociological Review, PDF ed., vol. 72, Apr. 2007, pp. 167-80.