In its tenth year, the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is helping children avoid the “summer slide,” a common loss of essential skills due to brain inactivity over summer vacation.
The free online program allows kids to access reading resources, log their reading minutes online and earn weekly digital reading rewards. However, the real reward, according to Scholastic spokesperson Maggie McGuire, is the ability to return to the classroom in the fall in a better position to perform well in school.
“We know that when kids read more throughout the year, and especially continue it throughout the summer months, their ability to continue to grow as readers, be competent when it comes to learning comprehension and vocabulary and all the skills you need to succeed as you advance in grades and in life are strengthened,” said McGuire.
Digital rewards include exclusive stories from popular children's authors, while the school with the most reading minutes logged has the opportunity to be in the "2017 Scholastic Book of World Records."
The program is based on research conducted with kids, families and teachers on reading habits and the importance of reading all summer long, not only during the school year. McGuire compares the necessity of exercising the brain to flexing any other muscle.
“It’s like if an athlete works out only six months of the year and they never work out those other six months, then when they get back to the sport it’s going to take a while to ramp up again and we see the same thing happening with the ‘summer slide,’” she said.
The program emphasizes the importance of letting kids choose their own books to read. According to Scholastic, 91 percent of children aged 6-17 reported that the books they are most likely to finish and enjoy are books that they picked out themselves.
This year, 43 governors and governors' spouses across the country have shown support for the program, each donating 500 books to the school of their choice. Since it began ten years ago, students have logged over one billion reading minutes in total. This summer, almost one hundred million minutes have been logged already — well on track to break the record of previous years.
However, the program is less about statistics and more about creating a positive experience for children to cultivate a love of reading.
“We wanted to turn it into a really fun, positive, motivating and inspiring thing and not make it feel like it’s didactic or homework or a chore because in the end, reading is really fun— it’s a form of entertainment,” said McGuire.
Interested parents, teachers or kids can find more information here.
Top Summer Reads for Kids and Young Adults
In a poll conducted by Scholastic, when asked what type of books they liked to read, the majority of children aged 6-17 said they preferred books that made them laugh. Here are some of the funniest reads recommended by Scholastic:
For toddlers: The “No, David!” series by David Shannon features a rebellious little boy who doesn’t like to follow rules.
For elementary schoolers: The “Junie B. Jones” series by Barbara Park follows the life of sassy, rambunctious Junie B. Jones as she navigates her way through elementary school.
For middle schoolers: The “I Funny” series by James Patterson centers on a middle school boy who dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian.