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Summer Reading and the Chance to Do Good

August 3, 2010

Via the New York Times and Tara Parker-Pope: Summer Must-Read For Kids? Any Book.

It covers a study of reading level, and maintenance of reading skills, in kids who chose books at a summer book fair, versus kids who were given activity or puzzle books.

The researchers wanted to study whether providing books to young children during the summer would affect school performance over the years. At the start of the study, 852 randomly selected first- and second-graders attended a school book fair in the spring, where they were allowed to browse from 600 book titles.

Continuing the study over three years, the researchers found that kids who took home books from the book fair maintained reading skill test scores equivalent to about three years of summer school.

I’ll say this again. I was really lucky, growing up. I was born into a family of readers, and never struggled with reading. Always had access to books, during the school year and during the summer. I loved curling up with a good book after a day at the beach, or on a rainy day. Loved the library. (Though thinking about summer skill building, a memory surfaces of a giant math book and practice problems I got stuck with when I was nine or so.  I remember doing pages before I got to go to the beach.)

For awhile I’ve been kicking around ideas of how to turn the number of books I’ve read this year into some kind of signifier for a charity donation. To raise money for a bookish charity- I’m thinking the NYPL or A Dry Read in Nashville.

I don’t know what’s reasonable– asking people to pledge a dollar a book? 25 cents is the daily overdue fee at New York libraries, if you like the symmetry. I wish I’d thought of this earlier in the year, to get the word out properly. And to get people to sponsor me before they realized how fast I read… I’m at 60 books so far this year. To be fair, a few of them were kids’ books and rereads.

Well, September is coming up. Let me research the setup and do some thinking– maybe I can do something from September to December? What do people think?

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