Archives: Literacy

3 Steps to Help Your Struggling Reader Beat a Summer Slump

3 Steps to Help Your Struggling Reader Beat a Summer Slump

To a child, few things sound as sweet as the last bell on the last day before summer break.

With no assignments or homework to complete, he sees the summer as a welcome release from the daily tension that goes with modern education.

{Unless you’re a child who struggles to read}

Unfortunately, a child with reading problems cannot indulge in long breaks without losing important ground made during the school year.

Research shows that a child’s reading skills, especially those who already struggle with books, decline during the summer months.

A long break from regular reading practice often means a child has to learn words and word families again when school starts in the fall.

On the other hand, nonstop work leaves a child feeling as if his life is held prisoner by his learning disability.

{So what’s the solution?}

Reading experts say the key is balance and suggest parents find ways to let their children recharge while not losing vital reading skills over the summer.

With that advice in mind, here are three steps to help your child enjoy summer without losing important reading skills:

  1. Begin with a flexible schedule.  Like adults, children enjoy summer’s unhurried pace, so sticking with a loose timetable will go a long way to convince your child that he truly is getting a break from school.
  2. Go casual. Since the summer offers valuable downtime, reading experts do suggest you make use of the time by familiarizing your child with the books he will read for the upcoming school year as long as you use a relaxed approach. For instance, sample future reading assignments as an audio book or as part of your family read aloud time, but avoid announcing that the material is school related.
  3. Buy or borrow short stories or easy-to-read books. Starting and finishing a story boosts a child’s confidence and creates a desire to read more. That’s why summer is ideal for easy-to-read books or short stories.  Over the break, he may be able to read several shorter books or stories and start the school year with a sense of accomplishment. As a bonus, your child is less likely to feel insecure about reading easier books or short stories since he isn’t comparing his reading material to the tome the bookworm is holding sitting in the desk beside him.

Summer learning doesn’t have to imitate school routines to be effective. A child with reading disabilities may have to be more careful with his summer time, but he deserves a playful break just as much as anyone else.

With a little planning, this summer can be the best ever.

Looking for a story that won’t overwhelm your reader? Try The Literature Club Project a short story about a girl who hates reading but is stuck in a Literature Club. :) Only 99 cents! Find it HERE on Amazon. For ages 9+.

Why I Like Pink and Blue Books

thelittlegirlstory As a child, my sister and I fought for ownership of a pink Hallmark book called The Little Girl Story by Dean Walley.

The illustrations by Arlene Armacost and Gloria Nixon show a wispy girl, tiny, as befitting the title, who was forced to stand on a stool to wash dishes, yet could crawl inside her doll house and fish pickles out of jars too small for bigger hands. photo 3

I can’t speak for my sister, but I longed to be like this petite girl who wore pink.

I’ve been thinking about that book, and how much we adored it, as I’ve read about the UK based campaign, Let Books Be Books, which wishes to reduce the number of gender-specific books.

This movement created an online petition asking publishers “to take the label off books and let children choose freely which types of stories and activity books interest them.”


Some UK publishers quickly acquiesced.

Usborne, with titles like Cookbooks for Girls or Illustrated Classics for Boys, have agreed to re-title and re-market their books so they are gender neutral.

While other publishers have balked.

Michael O’Mara, chairman of the family owned Buster Books, told The Independent, “It’s a fact of life how a very large percentage of people shop when buying for kids, do it by sex. We know for a fact that when they are shopping on Amazon, they quite often type in ‘books for boys’ and ‘books for girls’.”

Colouring books for girls and boys


What Mr. O’Mara says is true in the U.S. also. It’s a buying habit I’ve seen often with parents who are literate, but don’t read.

In my experience, these parents value reading, seeing it as the cornerstone for their child’s education, yet they don’t read themselves.

As in 5, 10, 15 or 25 years of not picking up a book.bookfacts

That doesn’t mean they don’t want books for their children and grandchildren. They do, but when they shop for books they navigate towards what is comfortable: the pink and blue books.

You see, I’m not against using less pink or blue to identify books, nor am I against fewer stereotypes on book covers.

And, c’mon on. It’d be hard not to notice the “pinkification” going on in the children’s department over the last two decades.

But I also work with or live among people who make purchases based on these criteria, and my heart is soft toward them.

I don’t want them to feel more confused when selecting a book. I don’t want them to feel more awkward when pulling their son or daughter, granddaughter or grandson into their lap to read a story. And, I definitely don’t want them to feel ashamed for selecting a pink or blue book.

Picking a book is easy for me, and others who read frequently, because books are friendly and lovely, full of opportunities and adventure.

That’s not the experience many families have though.

So, while I do believe de-emphasizing the “pinkness” and “blueness” from the shelves is a reasonable request, I hesitate to throw my full support into the idea because I don’t want all the pink and blue books to disappear or for there to be a public consensus that buying these books is wrong.

Because if those pink and blue books disappear or the parents and grandparents are shamed away from purchasing them, then I worry those children and grandchildren won’t receive a book at all.

And, that, truly, would be a terrible ending to the story.

P.S. And, if my sister happens to be reading this, then remember possession is nine-tenths of the law. The Little Girl Story is mine. All mine.