As students all over the suburbs celebrate the onset of summer vacation, local educators are offering them a small but important reminder:
Don't forget to read!
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Summer reading is viewed by many suburban school districts as an easy and effective way to keep young brains sharp during the 10-week break. They send out lists of suggested reading material to parents at the end of each school year and work with local libraries on summer-reading programs.
"There's research out there that shows typical students return to the classroom from summer break with one to two months of learning loss," said Erin Knoll, director of literacy in Schaumburg Elementary District 54. "Reading books over the summer is a great way to counteract that. Teachers don't have to spend as much time in the fall getting students up to speed."
District 54 maintains a summer reading list on its website. The list is broken down by grade level, and it includes both fiction and nonfiction titles. Knoll said District 54 coordinates the list with the Schaumburg Township District Library, so that multiple copies of the books are available on the library's shelves.
"The response is amazing," she said. "The shelves with these books are sometimes wiped out."
Mount Prospect Elementary District 57 also has a list., basing its selections on books nominated for various young-reader awards. The list also includes the latest book selections in the Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year program, a regional reading effort promoting social justice.
Susan Woodrow, District 57's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, agreed that summer reading makes students better prepared for the fall. She believes it also helps cultivate a general passion for reading.
"Reading is still part of so much that we do in our lives," Woodrow said. "Doing it outside the school environment is key to falling in love with it."
Participation in reading programs is generally voluntary, but some school districts offer incentives. In Elgin Area School District U-46, for example, schools can win prizes for participating in local summer reading programs.
Knoll said the suggested reading lists aren't meant to take away from traditional summer fun, but to add to it.
"We all know there will be a few rainy days in the summer," she said. "What a great time to read a good book!"