MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s almost summertime! Starting next Friday, May 26 thousands of Memphis Shelby County students will be out of class for summer break.
District leaders are encouraging students to read more books, but for some families that’s challenging.
According to a 2022 study from the National Literacy Trust, 1 in 5 kids don’t have books at home, which makes it harder to stay on track.
“It's critically important that students continue to read over the summer, because if they don't, they risk summer slide,” said Joyce Harrison, Literacy Manager with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction with Memphis Shelby County Schools.
According to Scholastic researchers, the first study on summer slide was released in 1996. Studies show kids can lose on average up to 20 percent of reading skills over summer break.
A University of Tennessee study states that’s two months of reading development.
“It’s because of that lack of engagement with academic activity,” said Harrison. “We really encourage our students to read at all times.”
There are plenty of books to read at school. Still, that’s not the case in every home.
“Not all of our students have books at home or home libraries,” said Harrison.
It’s more common than you think. According to the Literacy Project Foundation, the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1 in middle-income neighborhoods. In low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children.
Harrison said he believes one barrier is finances.
“Price points can vary. Books can be expensive,” said Harrison. “That's one factor that may affect our families.”
Another barrier, Harrison said, is having age-appropriate books at home.
“That's a big one,” she said. “Because sometimes there will be books in the home, but they won't be appropriate for say, a first grader.”
That’s why MSCS is teaming up with the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation, to give kids more access to books this summer.
“This is our third year being involved with that program,” said Harrison. “Our current kindergarten, current first graders, and current second graders will be receiving a mini library over the summer.”
In the K-3 Home Delivery Program, students will receive 6 books and learning activities in the mail for free.
“The books have started to be delivered across our state,” said Harrison. “But here locally for our students, they're set to be delivered early June.”
Check out the 2023 K-3 Home Library Book Inventory, a link to a list of the titles that will be delivered for each grade level.
Additional at-school and at-home resources are available at BookersBookClub.org/Activities.
District leaders say if your child needs more instruction the 2023 Summer Learning Academy is another resource for students. The academy runs from June 20th until July 19th.
To find resources like printable sight words, and other helpful tools for families, click here.