Early Literacy Summer Reading Intervention Programs


Early literacy summer reading programs are a relatively new concept. Although there has always been a push for students to "use their brains" over the summer, the importance of reading skills and literacy development are stronger now more than ever. Through the use of summer reading programs students are able to continue working on their literacy skills and have a consistent reading routine.

Dr. Brooks experiment


What Is Summer Reading Loss?:

Summer reading loss is the loss of vital reading and literacy skills and strategies that occurs over the summer months when a struggling reader is offered little to no contact with reading materials and support beyond the classroom. Summer reading loss negatively impacts student achievement. Students from low-income families are especially at risk for summer reading loss and can lose between 1 to 2 years’ worth of reading development throughout the summer months





Summer reading retention programs are fairly new to our education system. However, due to the incentive of funds from programs, schools are taking larger strides in implementing programs and services for students throughout the school year and summer. These programs and services provide students that are reading below grade level and are also struggling with literacy skills the ability to work with professional educators throughout the summer to obtain new skills and strategies as well as advance in their reading abilities. The overall goal is to have each child reading on or above their grade level before the start of the next school year.

Reading First of Ohio is now funding programs that will allow children ages 3-5 access to language activities and incentives to begin developing reading skills before the actual reading begins.

The Ohio Department of Education allotted 13 million dollars to schools for the implementation of reading intervention programs in response to the recently adopted Third Grade Guarantee. The Third Grade Guarantee is an assurance that all students will be reading on grade level by the end of the third grade or they will be retained.

Ohio Ready to Read is another program that has donated money to our state's libraries in order to inform librarians and other employees of the importance of early literacy skills and the skill, strategies, and tools needed for students to read on level starting in head start. This information is then used for each library to create and implement their own reading intervention programs for students of various ages, struggling in various areas of reading.

 Recommendations: Structure:

-Students are given an assessment at the start of the program in early June, testing for reading level. 


-Assessment may consist of a Bader, Running Record, etc.



-Students then discuss their fears and feelings about reading with teacher. Together goals are established.

                                  - Based off of the assessment student and teacher develop appropriate goals for the child.




-Students are then given the opportunity and freedom to choose books that they would like to read.

                                -Program teacher works with student when choosing text only to ensure that the text is on level with the child’s reading ability.


-Student then begins working toward set goals within the allotted program time and also at home.

-Program offers individualized reading time as well as specific time working as a group on various literacy skills and strategies.


-As each student is working toward their goals they are also working as a whole within the program.

-Whole group instruction consists of working on various literacy skills and strategies as well as a writing.


-Whether the instructor is working with a child individually or throughout whole group instruction, the key components (listed below) are constantly being reinforced and embedded within the program.


-By the end of July when the program is ending students will again work one on one with the program teacher to assess goals.

-This will be a time to talk about which goals were met and which areas need continued work.


-At this time a follow up assessment is encouraged.

-The program instructor should use the same form of assessment as at the start of the program to gauge student growth. This information can be given to the student as well as the parents to show student achievement and advancement.


-It can be a good to have a small rewards ceremony at the end of the program.

-The ceremony should highlight EVERY child. The ceremony is not a must but can boost a student’s attitude toward reading.


Research: Key Components and Benefits for Children:

Writing implementation:

In a summer reading program, just like throughout the school year, children should write about what they are reading. Readers can write in daily journals, every time they read; they can write about feelings, interesting things that they read about, or just their reaction to what they are reading, and a prediction to what they think may happen next. After students have written about their book they should then share what they have discovered with someone.


When incorporating writing into a reading program you are allowing for the students to build on their meaning making skills, build comprehension, and organize the content they are reading. This allows for students to learn how to sequence events in a story, pick out the main idea, learn the difference between fiction and non-fiction text, discover facts within a book, and build their imagination. All of these benefits will allows the student to grow in their reading and help them to advance in their reading skills, and abilities.


The following link has more information about using writing implementation with reading. This link also provides information about theory, research and practice of writing used with reading. 



The following link has more information about writing being used with reading, along with information on how to set up writers workshop for students. 


The following link has more information on how to set up readerswork shop, and how writing is involved with that structure.


Choosing Books:

Allow children to choose books that interest them while encouraging them to explore different authors, themes and genres (biography, adventure, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, poetry, and others.). Children should also be able to pick books that connect to their summer activities such as camping, or going to the beach. While letting your readers pick out their own books there are some important things that you need to do as the instructor:

•  Make sure that the books you are providing are matched to his or her reading level.

•  Provide a wide variety of text that are interesting and appropriate for students’ age rangers and personally interest.

•  Empower them by encouraging them to read, and not choosing for them.


Students need to know that they have some power over their education. When they aren’t given choices, it certainly doesn’t inspire them to be proactive about their participation, because they feel like it’s already a done deal. But if students are able to make choices, then they feel empowered, and feel more motivated to read. We want to create excited readers, and not bore or scare them away from reading.

The following link has more information on the benefits of letting children choose their own books. 


The following link has more tips for parents about summer reading programs.


 The following link is a professional paper, about raising students who want to read. It provides tips and background information about each aspect listed. 


Access to Books:

When children choose books they need to be able to have accessibility to many different options. They need to have a wide variety of genres, personally relevant books, and books that are appropriate age range and reading level. The readers also need to be able to know where they can find more books during the program and also outside of the program. It would be important to show students where they can get books while within the program but it is also important to take them to a local library and show them that they are able to get books, and how to find them.


By providing the readers with access to books inside the program and outside the program you are motivating them and encouraging them to read, not just with the program but at home as well. By allowing students to have a wide range of text also encourages their reading because so many students have a different range of interest. It is also important to have a wide range of books because it is important for students to have exposures to different authors and genres, which allows the readers to have insight on other cultures, world wide locations, and new vocabulary. The more diverse the options, the more likely it is that every reader can find something that they personally like.

The following link is a professional paper, about raising students who want to read. It provides tips and background information about each aspect listed. 


 The following link provides information about why children benefit from reading a variety of books, and from having access to books as well. 



Pairs, Groups, and Individual Reading:

In the summer reading program it is important for students to get a variety of reading structures. These structures are paired reading, group reading and individual reading. When reading in pairs students should be with someone who is of the same reading ability, or with someone who is less fluent. In group reading students should be read to by the instructor, while the instructor reads allow he or she should also stop in places of the book to ask questions, or make predictions. When reading individually students should be somewhere quite, and be given the opportunity to write in their journals, and discuss what they have read with their instructor.


Paired reading allows for the instructor to observe and work with others. It also allows for the students to build oral skills, and encourages students to try reading materials that may be more difficult than normal. This will also help students become more fluent by hearing others read aloud. Group reading allows for key vocabulary to be introduced in an interactive and visual way. It also exposes readers to a different variety of books, and allows them to critically think about what is happening in the book. Individual reading allows students to work on decoding skills, comprehension skills, and helps develop more fluent readers at their own pace.

The following link has information about classroom strategies for literacy in the early years. 


The following link has research and information about how to help a student become more fluent through various literacy strategies. 


Parent Involvement:

Successful readers generally are products of parents who model this same behavior at home. It is important as the instructor to encourage parents to become involved in their child’s reading, and it is important to tell them why as well. To help parents become involved give them a few tips:

•  Parents should read at least 20 minutes a day with their child.

•  They should read aloud with their children.

•  Encourage them to turn off TV’s, radios, and iPods,.

•  Make a family reading time.

•  Don’t limit reading to bedtime.

•  Subscribe to periodicals of interest in a child’s name or highlight newspaper articles of interest to the child.

• Read magazines in line at the grocery.

• Discuss what you are reading.

• Work reading into everyday life.


Parent involvement is beneficial to readers in a few ways. It reinforces what students are learning in school or in the summer program at home. 53% of fluent readers are reading books at home for fun everyday. It also encourages the readers to want to read more, because their parents play as a big role model in the child’s life. When parents only read 2-3 times per month or less with their children, only 15% of those children read for fun or fluently.


 The following link has information about parent involvement and how it effects student learning. 



The following link has information about summer reading loss and how parents can become involved to help prevent this loss. 


 Summer Goal Setting:

While in a summer reading program the student should work one on one with instructor to establish several goals for the student throughout their time in the program. The student should have equal input with the instructor as to what goals will be put in place.

Parents should also establish reading goals with their child throughout the summer. Parents should allow the child to establish goals of his/her own along with the parent chosen goals. Both the parent and the child should agree to each of the goals in order for the child to work successfully toward meeting them. 


The implementation of goals allows children to work toward an attainable end game. Children are able to decide for themselves what areas of their reading skills they wanted to improve upon.

By setting goals throughout the summer, children are able to stay within the routine of the school year. Goal setting allows them to continue advancing their reading routine and literacy skills.

The following link is to a journal article discussing the different types of goals that can be set during the summer


The following link is to the Scholastic website; displaying their summer reading challenge


The following link is the current BJU summer reading program; including information and background



Outside Experiences:

Many libraries have annual summer reading programs that children can take part in. The library programs often offer goal setting, book selection, skill training, support, and awards.

Many universities provide summer reading outreach as well. College students work with their university to provide summer reading help and support for early literacy students.


Children are given crucial tools and skills to advance their skills while in an unconventional and playful environment outside of a normal structured classroom.

 Students are able to see the use and importance of reading and literacy in outside experiences and field trips.

The following link is to the Cincinnati State website, this site displays the summer reading program they offer


The following lnik is to the John Carroll University website, this site displays the summer reading program they offer


This site is to the Lane Library annual summer reading program, it also offers background and goals for summer reading


This link is to the collaborative summer library program and outlines their program and experiences

Reading Environment:

 It is important for the environment where a child is reading to be free of electronics such as television, computers, etc. These items can be distracting

Children should be encouraged to read aloud or with a parent or friend within their reading space. The child should also be allowed to create their own reading space where they feel comfortable.

Implement written words and letters in the environment that allows children to connect written language, letters, and sounds to the reading.


An environment free of distractions allows children to focus specifically on reading and not on watching television or playing on the computer. Reading time should be exclusive to reading and for a child to walk away with knowledge obtained they need to be focus on only reading.

Reading aloud also allows a child to hear themselves read and correct their mistakes. This also allows for a child to have their reading skills reaffirmed and praised by another. If reading with someone else the child is also able to hear the inflection and word pronunciation of the other reader.

The following link is the collaborative summer library program; it oulines background and provides helpful information regarding summer reading


The following link is an article that speaks to the importance of a child's reading environment


This link is to a site that focuses on literacy rich environments and their importance and role in summer reading


Issues: Why the Need for Summer Reading Programs?:

* One study has shown that those children who participated in a summer reading program generally scored higher on tests and overall achieved higher.

The study also found that those students returned to school the following year with a more positive attitude toward reading and were more confident within the classroom.

* One out of every three children in the U.S. entering kindergarten are already struggling with literacy skills.

By implementing sing alongs, read alouds, and access to books, young children are able to strengthen and build upon their literacy skills in preparation for their upcoming academic career.

The following linkis to an article that speaks to the importance on early literacy and the ways early literacy or the lack there of can impact children.  




 The following link is to an article that speaks to the benefits of summer reading programs and the positive impact they can have on children.


Additional Resources:

Summer Reading Programs/Resources in Ohio:


The above link is to an article displaying the imporance of a literacy rich enviornment and how to create one at home


The above link displays Miami's summer reading program that is provided to children


The above link is to the Scholastic website, this displays helpful inormation about summer reading as well as the summer reading challenge they support.


The above link provides information regarding Lane Libraries summer reading program and how to enroll a child in the program


The above link is to a children's animated video, the video speaks to reading skills and how to gain and improve upon your reading skills.




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