Prevent Summer Reading Regression! See what the research says….

A group of kids reading while lying on the grass outsideSummer is a great time for children to relax and have fun. It’s a wonderful break from school, homework, etc. However, what effect does it have on a young child to take two entire months off from reading and writing?

With the summer now in full swing, I wanted to discuss a couple of articles on how to make summer reading effective for you and your child. Do you want your child to be ready for the new school year? This post will help you and your child stay on top of reading this summer with tips on how to make it most effective.

How do you provide the optimal reading experience for your child? James Kim, associate professor at Harvard University states that, “you have to provide books that match the child’s reading level and interest and you have to know how to monitor comprehension.” This means that you can’t just provide your child with books and expect there not be regression. Children do best when provided with support and monitoring from the parent or caregiver. James Kim also brought up a very important point about matching a child’s reading level and interest. Have you ever began a read book and was so bored you never finished it? I know that I have. I like to select books that interest me. The same goes for our kids. If your child likes cats, read cat books with them. If your child likes cars, read car books.

Reading level is also really important. James Kim made up a genius and easy way to see if a book is too hard for your child. It is called the five finger rule. According to James Kim (2009), “Ask a child to read 100 words from a book and teach the child to raise one finger for each word that is too difficult to figure out. If the child has more than five fingers up, the book is probably too hard.” I think this simple rule is an excellent rule to follow and super easy for parents to remember.

James Kim has conducted a lot of research in the area of reading and the regression that occurs over the summer. According to James Kim (2009), “In our first study, we surveyed 2,000 kids in fourth and sixth grade and asked what they read over the summer. We found that the kids who read the most over the summer did better in the fall—but that didn’t tell us why. Do books lead to comprehension or do good readers just have more books? So we followed up that study with larger, more comprehensive studies that looked at different approaches to see what worked best. Just providing books without guidance made no difference for younger children and only a slight difference for older children. Even having teachers encourage kids to read appeared to have no impact on comprehension. But we saw a significant difference when we provided books and adults were involved to guide reading skills and understanding.” To learn more about James Kim and his research studies, click here. To gain access to more information and resources about summer learning, visit the National Summer Learning Association’s website here.

So, what does this mean for you as a parent?

helpful tipsJames Kim discusses the ABC’s of reading:

A: Access to Books: A child needs to be have access to book within the home environment.

B: Books that match a child’s interest and reading level. When providing guidance and help during reading time, make sure to provide just enough help to get them to succeed. This is what “scaffolding” is defined as according to Meichenbaum and Biemiller (1998). When reading with your child, have them tell you what the book is about and then have them read it out loud to you. James Kim also describes the importance of children reading with expression. To read more about last research article on reading with expression, click here.

C: Comprehension. Make sure that your child is understanding what they are reading. This is key and scaffolding in the right way for the individual child is important. As a parent, we want our children to be successful so many parents may provide too much assistance. As hard as it is, try to hold back and give your child just enough assistance to make them succeed and learn.

To learn more about Research Tuesday, click here.


Kim, J.S. & White, T.G. (2008). Scaffolding voluntary summer reading for children in grades 3 to 5: An experimental study. Scientific Studies of Reading, 12(1), 1-23.

Kim, James S. (2009) “How to Make Summer Reading Effective.” R E S E A R C H I N B R I E F (n.d.): n. pag. National Summer Reading Association. Web. 3 July 2014. <>


  1. […] Prevent Summer Reading Regression Rebecca Eisenberg, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist, author, instructor, and parent of two young children, who began her blog to create a resource for parents to help make mealtime an enriched learning experience . Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. […]

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