Tuesday, May 19, 2015

No Summer Learning Loss Here! Resources to Help ALL Season Long!

Part 1: Build a Great Book List! (The 1st in a series of 5 articles)

It's been called The Summer Slide for some years now. Unfortunately, this phrase has nothing to do with child's play or any equipment found on a local playground. More recently, however, you may have heard the term Summer Learning Loss, which refers to any loss of knowledge, cognitive skills or even reversals in academic progress, commonly due to the extended, educational gap known as the summer vacation period.

At the beginning of each new school year, some educators take this summer learning loss in stride, building weeks (or sometimes more than a month) of review into their classroom schedules.

At the same time, however, there are other teachers who prefer to provide wise guidance for students and their families prior to each summer vacation time. Before dismissal on the last day of the school year, these teachers share resources with students' families to help maintain (and even improve!) their young pupils' reading and other cognitive skills over the summer months. Some homeschooling parents, especially those who choose to unschool during the summer months, have been using various educational resources in this way for many summer seasons---and with much success, too!

At times, these resources might be presented by educators in a special email message with resources that are hyper-linked and ready for use. Another method of presentation could be a simple yet comprehensive list or booklet of resources to keep children's brains sharp over the summer vacation period (not more than 4 or 5 pages, please). These resources might include the following items:

1. Recommended book list(s) with both fictional & non-fictional titles
2. Recommended reading & learning games (both physical & online offerings)
3. Well-vetted list of other reading & learning activities with brief descriptions (or links to more info)
4. Suggestions for no/low-cost educational field trips student families can make in-town
5. List of the key skills & main curriculum units to be learned in the NEXT school year

Because sustained, silent READING is so critical in preventing summer learning loss, the first order of business will be to build a great book list for students, appropriate for the age, grade level, interests and reading levels of the children. The list of recommended books you create should take into consideration and include ALL the reading levels in the student group---from challenged to gifted readers and everything in-between, too. Remember to include biographies and how-to books in addition to science fiction and choose-your-own-conclusion books, etc.

This week, to give you a head start, we are providing some good resources to help you begin building a customized book list. It will be most important that parents help students start the summer by establishing some type of daily reading routine. We hope our resources to follow here will be just the right amount of motivation needed to help you locate the best books possible, customized specifically for your student group or children. We believe you'll discover some excellent book selections there to start creating a great book list.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be providing additional resources for each of the other 4 recommended lists you'll want to create to help prevent summer learning loss in your students or children. For example, in next week's article, we will help you jump start your list of reading and learning games (physical and virtual) with the best resources we know to be available. Then the following week, the article will be all about other great reading and learning activities. We will continue each week in this way until all 5 articles are published with their respective resources to help you assist your children or students throughout the summer.

We're not at all advocating that you set aside your family's summer FUN here. We're simply suggesting that reading and learning be mindfully INCLUDED in students' summer vacation times. It is indeed possible to READ, LEARN and PREPARE this summer for the next school term AND have FUN doing so. It's one of the BEST ways we know to PREVENT summer learning loss!

Happy Reading---AND Happy Summer, everyone!

Recommended Book Lists (with Fictional & Non-fictional Titles)

Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-Present
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938-Present
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Previously Published Literature Lists
(Literature Lists for K-12 published by the California Department of Education)
As with any work of literature used in the classroom, educators should read and evaluate the book to determine its appropriateness for students. Parents using the lists will want to consider factors such as the child’s particular interests, independent reading ability, motivation, and level of maturity.

Summer Reading Lists (for K-12)---from TeacherVision
Vacation time is the perfect time to read, read, READ! Check out these lists of super-entertaining books, from classics to fun picks, for you and your students. Enjoy the site's slideshows on summer reading to find the best of the best children's literature for your child or students.

Books & Resources (from 1996 to 2015)
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12 (OSTB Award Seal)
Reading science trade books is the perfect way for students to build literacy skills while learning science content. The books that appear in these lists were selected

Baby Brown Reads
The books listed here celebrate, encourage, and promote literacy among African-American children.

Hispanic Heritage Booklists---from ColorĂ­n Colorado
The following link provides children's book lists that feature both fictional and non-fictional titles about Hispanic Heritage organized by topic that can be used all year long! Many books on our recommended lists are bilingual or are available in Spanish. Also, you can access additional Hispanic Heritage titles for young adults and other recommended resources there.

Other Related FREE Resources

Fight Summer Loss With These FREE Learning Tools---from MetaMetrics
As summer break arrives, students will leave the classroom and many may begin to slip in their reading and mathematics abilities. This slip has become known as summer loss. MetaMetrics has developed several FREE tools to help parents and educators combat summer loss.

8 Resources to Prevent Summer Learning Loss---by Jean Fleming from NWEA
Both teachers and administrators can make a big difference in thwarting summer learning loss, particularly for students with limited access to expanded and summer learning opportunities. Explore these FREE online resources and share them with families so that summer is a time of learning and growth.

For information on customizable low-tech & digital reading tools for all kinds of challenged readers, please visit:
www.FocusandRead.com Tools for struggling readers of all ages!
www.BrennanInnovators.com Info and support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at www.focusandread.com


  1. Nice lists. Thanks for sharing these.
    Stopping by from 'Blogging Homeschoolers' on FB.

  2. Dear Leslie,

    Thank YOU for taking the time to visit our blog and for your interest in this article about preventing summer learning loss. We hope you will discover at least a few resources provided here with the article that will help you in your homeschooling efforts this summer.

    Thank you again for taking the time to visit here AND for your great comment, Leslie. Blessings to you as you continue to work hard to educate your children at home!

    Happy Reading!

    Joan M. Brennan
    Brennan Innovators, LLC