Column: Time to Encourage Reading

Column: Time to Encourage Reading

For many of us summer vacation provides a time for our families to enjoy time off from the school year grind, and allows children to participate in fun outdoor activities. However, during summer break, some children fall behind in their academic achievements, which can lead to steps backward in a child’s education. This is especially true when it comes to reading.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, approximately 22 percent of the school year’s instructional time is lost over summer vacation. In fact, teachers often spend at least one month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. Unfortunately, the time that teachers spend covering old material could be dedicated to new material that students are potentially missing out on all together.

We may be more than halfway through this summer, but there is still plenty of time to encourage reading in your household before the kids get back to school. There are plenty of creative ways to help kids find time to read; children can combine reading with summer activities like going to the pool or traveling for a family vacation. You can also encourage reading by leading by example: reading together as a family, picking up your own book when your child sits down to read, and spending time together reading aloud are all ways to make reading a fun family activity.

And don’t be afraid to make visiting the library a regular activity of your summer schedule! Fairfax County has an extensive public library system, which can be a fun, cool place to spend an afternoon when the summer weather isn’t cooperating.

The library is also providing ways to encourage students to read during the summer. The Fairfax County Public Library Summer Reading Program runs until Sept. 5 and encourages children to read for pleasure during summer break. The program provides reading lists for those in need of ideas, and the program even offers prizes.

To be eligible for the coupon book prize, children from birth until sixth grade must read 15 books. They can also have books read to them. Seventh through twelfth grade students must read six books in order to be eligible for the prize. More information can be found at

Summer can be a fun and exciting time for our children, but while they are exercising their bodies with outdoor sports and activities, it is important that they exercise their minds as well. This is why I would encourage everyone to pick up a book this summer, and join the library programs that make reading fun and rewarding.