5 tips to improve reading skills over the summer

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Each summer, three-quarters (some 43 million) of America's kids miss out on expanded learning programs, leaving them at risk of falling behind before the next school year begins. Even more alarming: summer learning losses can stack up from year to year, causing many children to fall further and further behind, endangering their chances of graduating from high school.

During the summer, low-income youth lose more than two months' worth of reading skills, while their middle-class peers make slight gains. By the end of fifth grade, disadvantaged youth are nearly three grade equivalents behind their more affluent peers in reading.

To help kids stay on track for the coming school year, here are five tips to improve young people's reading skills this summer:

1. Read daily.

mother reading with child
To start good reading habits, kids should read 15 to 30 minutes every day. Parents should set the example and read with their kids too.

2. Variety is key.

children reading at boys and girls club
Have a variety of reading materials around the house to read - novels, newspapers, comic books, etc. Young people should realize that reading is fun. Even cooking includes reading recipes.

3. Find a great read.

Children reading in library
Follow your school's reading list or go to your local library for appropriate summer reading lists. Scholastic and Newbery Medal winners are also great starting places for reading lists.

4. Encourage creativity.

children on stage in play
Have kids create a play or draw a picture to bring the book to life. Young people can also rewrite the ending to a book or create an animated video about the book's plot.

5. Do good deeds.

young woman with tub of books
Encourage young people to help other kids in the community by collecting reading materials and donating them to a daycare or children's unit of a hospital. Kids can also build a free library at organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America is committed to ensuring that America's youth, especially those who need us most, graduate from high school on time with a plan for the future. Summer Brain Gain: READ! is a summer reading program that features a new book each week per age group along with supporting activities that bring the book to life. Supported by Staples, Summer Brain Gain: READ! was developed to improve the reading skills of America's youth. To learn more, visit www.greatfutures.org/braingain.

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