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June 13, 2017

Don’t go down the summer slide! Get up and READ!

By Laura Byrne


Did you know reading 20 minutes each day can help increase your child’s vocabulary, success in the classroom and even long term success?

Tampa, FL – Schwarzkopf Elementary School Media Specialist Holly Menendez has a favorite saying for summer reading: “Read Widely and Wildly!” What exactly does that mean? To encourage your child to get out of their reading comfort zone and read something new or even something more challenging and of course, read often!

“It’s staggering how much of a difference 20 minutes [of reading] can make not just on achievement, but vocabulary development, graduation rates, employment and lifelong learning,” said Menendez.

You’ve probably heard the term summer slide used by educators; it’s a real thing. It’s estimated teachers spend the first 4-6 weeks of a new school year re-teaching what students have forgotten over summer break. It’s also proven that children who read four or more books during their summer break, regardless of their socioeconomic background and previous achievement level, score better on reading comprehension tests in the fall than their fellow student who read one or no books during the break.
Menendez points to studies which show a student who reads 20 minutes per day (which equates to 3,600 minutes per school year and 1.8 million words per year) tends to score in the 90th percentile on standardized tests!

Schools, public libraries and community organizations in our community are making it easier than ever for local students to gain access to the reading materials they need. In Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, students can access myON, a FREE digital catalog of more than 13,000 titles for kids in grades K-8. Menendez says she loves this resource which can be accessed on a smartphone, iPad or computer because there are so many tools children can utilize like text tracking and a note pad, and they can even download up to 20 titles so they don’t have to have Wi-Fi at all times. (www.myon.com) She also loves that the resource is available to all students, not just public school students. The bonus of myON? Kids can win prizes by simply reading!

Speaking of prizes, there are several summer reading incentive programs your child can take advantage of this summer. Students across the state can pledge to read every day and can even help their school win a chance to be among the top 10 schools recognized for having the highest percentage of participation by signing the Summer Literacy Pledge (fldoe.org). The Rays are teaming up with Suncoast Credit Union to offer two complimentary tickets to a Rays game to children who complete 24 hours of reading this summer and Barnes and Noble’s Summer Reading Program offers your child a FREE book for reading 8 books this summer and journaling about it! Many schools are offering incentive programs too, so be sure to ask if you haven’t heard already!


Summer reading doesn’t just have to be books. Menendez says you can make it tasty by getting into the kitchen and following a recipe from your favorite cookbook or follow the instructions of a new game or toy. The point is to read and read often—and stay off the ‘summer slide’!

Menendez shared some of her favorite summer reading incentive programs: 

Reading with the Rays presented by Suncoast Credit Union: Complete 24 hours of reading to receive two complimentary tickets to a Rays game and other prizes. Pick up your Read Your Way to the Ballpark game card at your local library or Tropicana Field. Raysbaseball.com/reading 

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program: Get a FREE book from summer reading list after reading 8 books. Barnesandnoble.com



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