Summer Literacy

Summertime in Maine often means trips to our fabulous beaches, attending a local festival, and camping in the back yard or out in the woods. Summertime also means that many children are taking a break from academics and not engaging in learning activities. During this time, many jump on the summer slide, a time when gaps in achievement widen and students who are struggling to keep up fall further behind.  It is estimated that the "Summer Slide" accounts for as much as 85 percent of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and their middle- and upper-income peers.*

To keep Maine kids learning throughout the summer, the Maine Department of Education has teamed up a number of partners to offer exciting and fun resources to help students retain the literacy skills they gained this past school year, while ramping up their skills for next fall. These resources are free, self-directed opportunities that parents and students can enjoy together.

Take the Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge. Read for at least 500 minutes this summer to be eligible for a prize drawing that includes the chance to win a bike and helmet. 

Visit Lexile--Find a Book to search for engaging summer reading material. This site can help you and your child locate books that appeal to your child’s interests and that are at appropriate levels of difficulty. Once at the site:

  • Enter your child's grade level or the child’s Lexile reading level.
  • Help your child select categories of interest.
  • View and refine your search results.
  • Add books to your child's reading list.
  • Search for books at your local public and/or school library.

Visit your public library. Almost every public library in Maine has a summer reading program for children. Some libraries also have summer reading programs for teens and adults. Contact your local library to get more details. Visit a public library in Maine - search this list by town or county.

Check out a summer nutrition site. Many Maine communities have summer nutrition sites where children up to age 18 can obtain healthy meals and where there are often fun summer learning opportunities happening. 

Here are some other resources you can use to keep your children’s literacy skills sharp in the summer.

  • Check out Summer Reading Guides like this one from Reading Rockets. Searchable by student age, this guide contains numerous suggestions for engaging fiction and informational texts. Additional summer literacy activities can also be accessed from Reading Rockets, a site produced by the Public Broadcasting Corporation, and from Read-Write-Think, a site produced by the National Council of Teachers of English.
  • Community Learning for ME website, comprehensive resources to support learning for teachers, families and students.
  • Participate in Scholastic Summer Read-A-Palooza, a free program unites communities in a nationwide campaign that celebrates reading for fun while improving access to books during the summer.
  • Participate in the Maine State Parks Passport Program. Pick up your passport and visit Maine State Parks to stamp your passport. Talk with your child about the park visits and encourage your child to keep a journal to describe each of the parks.  What is unique about each one? What is similar? What did you do while there? 
  • Learn more about your favorite topic, the places you visit, and the things you like to do by searching Digital Maine Library, Maine’s Virtual Database, for articles and information written for a variety of reading levels. 
  • Don’t forget to write!  Children can benefit from keeping their writing skills sharp in the summer, too. Some easy and fun ways to encourage writing include:
    • Write a group letter or email to family or friends. Consider being pen pals (or email pals) with a friend you won’t see much over the summer.
    • Send postcards to family or friends while on family trips.
    • Create comics or wiki spaces.
    • Write notes and make lists.
    • Keep a journal, diary, or online blog about your summer activities.

*Why Summer Matters in the Rich/Poor Achievement Gap, Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Frazen, August 2009.

Why Is Summer Reading So Important for Kids' Success? by Amanda Johnson (