Youth Services Blog

Preventing "Summer Slide"

Water Your Mind - READ

Now that their children are out of school for the summer, many parents are understandably concerned about “summer slide”, or a gradual forgetting of what one has learned during the school year. It can be hard, without the constant reinforcement received in the classroom, to retain everything from June to September!
Never fear; your friendly neighborhood librarians are happy to come to the rescue!

Here are some of our favorite strategies for summer slide prevention that—hopefully—won’t feel like work!

Child Reading

For Babies:

  • Try to read every day, even if you are reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See for the 901,102nd time. Repetition is important for early literacy.
  • Read out loud everywhere, and we mean everywhere! For example, in the grocery store, read, point to, and spell the names of the items you are putting in the cart: “Look! We’re getting oats for oatmeal! See? O-A-T!”
  • Sing the alphabet song frequently, especially when you have letters in front of you.
  • Use foam letters or homemade tub paint in the bathtub!
    • Tub Paint (from http://366daysofpinterest.com/2012/07/12/day-163-diy-tub-paint-2/) Please note: we have not tried this recipe ourselves!
    • Materials:
      baby shampoo
      corn starch
      food coloring
    • Directions:
      • 1. Combine 4-6 pumps (about 1/8 cup) of baby shampoo with a tablespoon of cornstarch. The directions suggest adding a teaspoon or two of water as well. I don’t recommend this. You don’t need it, and it just makes it runny.
      • 2. Divide your mixture between a few small containers. A muffin tin or ice cube tray work well. Add food coloring as desired. One drop is really all you need.


    For Toddlers and Preschoolers:

    • Again, read every day.
    • Underline words with your finger as you read, and sound out some words throughout the text.
    • Provide additional engagement by asking your child(ren) questions about the pictures and story; they love doing this anyway, and it’s a great way to help them to develop critical thinking skills. For example: “How many animals are on this page? Do you think they are hungry? What do you think the bear will do next? Would you want to have a big, hungry bear in the house?”
    • Let them “read” memorized stories to you. Curious George may be old news for you, but saying all the words aloud is exciting for them! Trust us on this one.
    • Play Hopscotch using letters instead of numbers; pick every other letter, or skip a few, and make them work to put them all in order.
    • Play “I Spy” with letters. This one is especially great for long car trips, or when stuck in traffic. Try to get all 26 letters; you’ll be surprised at how much fun you have, and how challenging it is!

    Children reading together

    Beginning Readers: Kindergarten-3rd Grade:

    • Ask kindergarteners to sound out words in the books you read with them. As their vocabularies grow, move on to more challenging words. Once they are fluent readers, mix in some more advanced words and look them up in the dictionary together. The best way to learn a new word is to read it in a text!
    • Set a good example, and make reading together a fun activity: Don’t be afraid to read aloud to the preschooler, second-grader, sixth grader, and teenager after dinner or before bed. Snuggling up together with a good book will create lasting, happy memories for you and your children. Some great suggestions are: The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, Holes by Louis Sachar, or one of the excellent Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. (Never be afraid to read in the characters' voices. Ever. It totally ups your cool factor. )
    • Engage your young readers with questions: “why do you think Stanley did that? What would you do in that situation? Do you think this person is doing the right thing?” etc. This will help to build the critical thinking skills you fostered when they were preschoolers!
    • Once they are able to read out loud, have them read to you. Start small, by asking them to read lines of recipes or street signs. Later, move on to larger chunks of text, like a whole recipe or a short poem. (Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky both have excellent, funny books of short poetry for children.) Eventually, maybe you can have them read you their bedtime stories!

    Older Readers: 4th-8th grade:

    • Encourage their interests. Is your 10-year-old obsessed with horses? Great! Maybe she can learn about different breeds of horses, or read a beautiful story like Black Beauty. You may be surprised at how well they educate themselves on topics they enjoy.
    • By all means, allow them “gateway books”, which are short, popular, easier books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Daisy Meadows’ fairy books. These will get them hooked on reading; then, they can more easily be persuaded to read different, more complex works. For example, a fifth grade boy who enjoys Diary of a Wimpy Kid may like Tom Sawyer, while a girl who has moved beyond the American Girl series might like Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, or the Little House series. If you need ideas, please do not hesitate to ask us for suggestions! We love making recommendations.
    • Please, please try to make reading a positive experience! No matter what your child’s reading level, we hope to encourage in him or her a love of reading, which will be a valuable skill as he or she grows up.

    Finally, one of the very best ways to prevent “summer slide” is to sign up for and complete the New Lenox Public Library’s summer reading program! It’s totally free, and everyone in the family is welcome to participate! We love when families read together.


Literacy Activities for Families

Literacy activities infographic

All About Wordless Picture Books!

What is a wordless picture book?

Exactly as it sounds, a wordless picture book relies on illustrations to draw readers into the story.

How do you read a wordless picture book with your children?

Wordless picture books encourage you to read with your child, not just to them. When given the opportunity, a child will discover a story in a book’s pictures that is super imaginative. The story they make up does not have to make sense! Each book is a blank slate when it is read by a child. Wordless picture books allow you to read the same book over and over without exhausting the plot; it is always something new!

What are the benefits of wordless picture books?

They help to develop vocabulary and language skills. Children label objects in the pictures, assign sounds and gestures to the objects, and invent a simple plot story. Wordless picture books also help develop creativity and storytelling skills. Kids learn to devise storylines, understand sequencing of events, and develop oral skills.

This sounds great! Could you give me a few examples of wordless picture books?

  • Pancakes for Breakfast (E DEP)
  • Red Sled (E JUD)
  • Hank Finds an Egg (E DUD)
  • Truck (E CHE)
  • Chalk (E THO)
  • Rainstorm (E LEH)

How Audio Promotes Literacy

Audio learning infographic

Six Super Cool Adventure Novels

The Name of this Book is Secret
By: Pseudonymous Bosch
The Name of this Book is Secret

A Week in the Woods
By: Andrew Clements
A Week in the Woods

By: Gary Paulson

Artemis Fowl
By: Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl

The Sea of Trolls
By: Nancy Farmer
The Sea of Trolls

Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone
By: J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone