Summer Reading at New York Libraries logoImportance of Summer Reading

A research brief on summer reading and public library summer reading programs


Goals of Summer Reading at New York Libraries

  • Advance literacy and academic performance by engaging children and teens in reading and reading-related activities during the summer months.
  • Foster a love of reading through public library programs and services.
  • Increase successful reading experiences through librarian-supported, self-selected, voluntary reading.
  • Involve parents and all family members in the library summer reading experience.
  • Improve children’s access to library materials and activities, which will encourage them to become lifelong library users.
  • Increase the number of children and teens participating in public library summer reading programs.


The document below, including the bibliography, in .pdf formatpdf icon [193k; last updated November 2019]


The Importance of Summer Reading:
Public Library Summer Reading Programs and Learning

Summer learning loss or setback, often referred to as the “summer slide,” is a devastating loss of academic achievement students experience during the summer months. It is estimated that, on average, students lose two months of grade-level mathematical computation skills over the summer, and low-income students can lose up to two months of reading achievement (McLaughlin & Smink, 2009). Research suggests that two-thirds of the reading achievement gap between high-low socioeconomic statuses in 9th-graders can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during elementary school, and one-third of the gap is present before students begin school (Alexander, Entwistle & Olsen, 2007). The body of summer learning research demonstrates the critical importance of developing summer reading habits that can combat summer learning loss and provide a foundation for academic success.

Summer learning research can be broadly categorized under the following themes:

  1. The impact of summer learning loss on disadvantaged youth
  2. Access to books and time devoted to reading
  3. The importance of successful reading experiences
  4. The impact of innovative summer reading programs

The following research brief offers a synopsis of summer reading research and includes an annotated bibliography.

The Impact of Summer Learning Loss on Disadvantaged Youth

There is an evident reading achievement disparity between students of different socioeconomic backgrounds. Dr. Beth Miller (2007) posits, “Other factors, nearly all of them related to the opportunities and experiences children have outside of the school, in the community and their families, result in gaps in achievement scores.” Researchers from John Hopkins University examined data from Baltimore area students that indicates that students across socioeconomic statuses achieved comparable academic gains during the school year. These gains, however, were disproportionately reduced during the summer months, in which economically disadvantaged students fell significantly behind their peers in reading achievement levels (Alexander, Entwistle & Olsen, 2007). Summer reading setback can account for approximately 80% of the reaching achievement gap between economically advantaged and disadvantaged students (Allington & McGill-Franzen). This achievement gap has a cascading effect as students continue to develop academically, and accounts for major differences in high school completion and four-year college attendance across socioeconomic statuses (Alexander, Entwistle & Olsen, 2007).

Access to Books

One of the most effective means of improving reading achievement levels is supplying students with engaging and comprehensive reading materials. Increased time reading can improve reading, writing, and spelling ability, cultivate larger vocabularies, and develop understanding of complex grammatical structures. One way to motivate students to read is by providing access to self-selected reading materials and time for voluntary reading (Krashen, 2009). When schools close for the summer, students’ reading opportunities diminish, especially for economically disadvantaged students without access to books. Increasing access to self-selected books for summer reading is an effective strategy for lowering summer reading setback in economically disadvantaged students and the achievement gap in students between high-low socioeconomic statuses (Allington et al., 2010). One study analyzed the experience of an urban high school, which motivated students to read over the summer by providing free, high-interest books to its students, providing further evidence that improving access to books and reading opportunities is a vital step to developing reading proficiency among lower-income students over the summer (McGaha & Igo, 2012).

The Importance of Successful Reading Experiences

A successful reading experience, which may include voluntary, self-selected, and high-interest books, can help develop reading proficiency. Providing high-interest reading material and reading opportunities is an especially important aspect of increasing reading proficiency among lower-income students (McGaha, 2012). Additionally, research suggests that voluntary summer reading intervention, in which students practice oral reading at home with family members and use comprehension strategies during independent, silent reading, can be an effective strategy for improving reading achievement among lower performing students (Kim, 2006). Participating in voluntary summer reading opportunities, along with increasing the likelihood of higher reading achievement, can also result in improved reading skills, motivation, confidence, and enjoyment (Roman, Carran & Fiore, 2010).

The Impact of Innovative Summer Reading Programs

Public library summer reading programs are one possible solution summer learning loss or summer reading setback. According to a three-year study conducted by the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University, students who participate in public library summer reading programs scored higher on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year than their peers who did not participate in public library summer reading programming. Students who participated in public library summer reading programs also demonstrated higher reading achievement than students who did not participate (Roman, Carran & Fiore, 2010). Students can especially benefit from “hybrid” programs that combine elements of youth development principles and academic enrichment. Summer reading programs in public libraries exemplify this kind of hybrid program (Miller, 2007). Additionally, public library summer programming plays an important community role. Public library services reach students and families within a community through programs ranging from academic enrichment opportunities to providing meals (Barack, 2019).

Summer Reading at New York Libraries

Summer Reading at New York Libraries is an annual program that brings children and families into local public libraries for reading and activities. More than 2.4 million children participated in New York State libraries’ Summer Reading Program in 2018, an approximate increase of 230,000 participants from 2017. The New York State Library partnered with 23 public library systems, 756 public libraries, and 311 neighborhood branches statewide to offer a summer reading program geared toward the needs of children in their communities. Public libraries partner with school and local organizations to help promote and create the program. Children are encouraged to discuss, write about, and report on the books they read. Library staff help children select reading materials and provide literacy-enhancing programs such as storytelling, music, creative arts, and performances (New York State Board of Regents, 2018).

Annotated Bibliography

(Updated Summer 2019)

Alexander, K., Entwistle D. & Olsen, L. 2007. "Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap." American Sociological Review, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 167-180.

Researchers from John Hopkins University examine data from the Baltimore Beginning School Study about the long-term educational consequences of summer learning across socioeconomic statuses. The authors trace the development of achievement scores from 1st- to 9th-grade. The study suggests that the achievement gap between high-low socioeconomic statuses is mainly due to summer learning involvement during elementary school years. This achievement gap accounts for major differences in high school completion and four-year college attendance across socioeconomic statuses.


Allington, R. L. & McGill-Franzen, A. 2013. Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap. Teachers College Press, New York.

This book explains how summer reading setback accounts for approximately 80% of the reading achievement gap between economically advantaged and disadvantaged students. The collection reviews multiple models for summer reading initiatives and provides research-based intervention suggestions, including distribution methods, book selection tips, and recommendations for follow-up.


Allington, R. L., McGill-Frazen, A., Camilli, G., Williams, L., Graff, J., Zeig, J., Zmach, C. & Nowak, R. 2010. "Addressing Summer Reading Setback Among Economically Disadvantaged Elementary Students." Reading Psychology, vol. 31, no. 5, pp. 411-427.

Allington et al. conducted an experimental, longitudinal study to see whether providing elementary school students from low-income families with self-selected books reduced summer reading setback. This study provides evidence that access to self-selected books for summer reading is an effective strategy for lowering summer reading setback in economically disadvantaged students and the achievement gap in students between high-low socioeconomic statuses.


Augustine, C. H., McCombs, J. S., Pane, J. F., Schwartz, H. L, Schweig, J., McEachin, A. & Siler-Evans, K. 2016. Learning from Summer: Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Urban Youth. Rand Corporation, Santa Monica.

In this study of summer learning, researchers found that the academic advantage for high-attendance students participating in 5-6-week summer learning programs translated to between 20 and 25 percent of typical annual gains in reading and math. Voluntary summer learning programs could help reduce the summer learning setback gap between low-income students and higher-income students.


Barack, L. 2019. "Public Library Summer Programming Is Vital to Communities, SLJ Survey Shows." School Library Journal.

The results of a School Library Journal survey indicate that public library summer programming plays an important community role. Public library services reach children and families within a community through various programs ranging from academic enrichment opportunities to providing meals. It requires careful planning, funding, and partnerships, however, for local libraries to establish programs that will meet the needs of their communities.


Bogel, G. 2012. "Public Library Summer Reading Programs Contribute to Reading Progress and Proficiency." Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 102-104.

This study analyzed the impact on student reading achievement through summer reading partnerships between public libraries and school libraries. The study found that students who participated in public library summer reading programs did not experience summer reading setback. The study also noted participants’ demographic information, which were principally middle-income, Caucasian, female, and generally scored well on reading evaluations.


Borman, G. D. & Boulay, M. (ed.) 2004. Summer Learning: Research, Policies, and Programs. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ.

This anthology gathers research-based evidence concerning summer learning and analyses a range of summer school programs. The book presents theory and data pertaining to summer reading setback and how learning differences affect education opportunity equality, examines the impact of three of the largest summer school programs in the Unites States, and considers the effects of alternative programs designed to combat summer learning loss.


Borman, G. D., Yang, H. & Xie, X. 2019. The Kids Read Now Summer Reading Program: A Quasi-Experimental Impact Study. University of Wisconsin, Madison.

A new study on the program efficiency of Kids Read Now (KRN), a leading supplemental reading program, indicates that the KRN can negate summer reading losses in low-income students. KRN is designed for students in grades K-3, and allows students to create a list of nine books from a list of educator-approved titles to read over the summer.


Collaborative Summer Library Program. 2014. "Summer Reading White Paper." NPC Research.

The Collaborative Summer Learning Program partnered with NPC Research to examine existing literature on the effectiveness of summer reading programs. The report reviews the status of current summer reading program research, whether summer reading programs are successful, and best practices for summer reading programs. This review corroborated prior research findings that summer reading programs provide consistent support for positive reading achievement outcomes when students return to school.


Davis, N. F. 2019. "6 Mistakes Rookie Programmers Make (& What to Do Instead) + 2 Unexpected Recommended Reads." Libraryprogramming.org.

Based on the National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment’s 9 Core Library Programming Competencies, Davis outlines 6 important steps librarians should consider when creating effective programming at their libraries and for their communities. These steps include asking for help, connecting attendees to other library resources and services, and encouraging interaction between guests.


Dynia, J. M., Piasta, S. B., Justice, L. M. & Columbus Metropolitan Library. 2015. "Impact of Library-Based Summer Reading Clubs on Primary-Grade Children’s Literacy Activities and Achievement." The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, vol. 85, no. 4, pp. 386-405.

This study analyzed the literacy achievements of elementary-grade students participating in summer reading programs to measure how summer reading program participation impacted literacy achievement. Participants included 90 2nd- and 3rd-grade students. Results suggested that participation in summer reading programs did not impact students’ literacy activities or achievements but did positively impact reading comprehension.


Food Research & Action Center. 2018. "Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Doesn’t Take a Vacation."

This report by the Food Research & Action Center examines the number of Summer Nutrition Meals provided for low-income children and the number of participants by state in 2017. It was determined that, despite an increase in participation between 2012-2015, there has been a decrease in the last two years; 2016 saw a 153,000 decrease in participation, and 2017 saw a 14,000 decrease with around 3 million participants total. The report stresses the importance of providing nutritional meals to low-income children, which will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle, keeping them focused and mentally enriched for the upcoming school year. The report explains that one of the primary reasons for this decline was because of low-income communities not receiving enough private and public funding for their summer programs. The report offers ways financially insecure areas can overcome these barriers and bring more kids in, such as making their programs more eligible, increase promotion and outreach, and providing access for patrons to attend these programs.


Ho, H.-Y. & Good, K. 2015. "Longitudinal Impact of Virginia Public Libraries’ Summer Reading Program on Student Reading Outcomes." McREL International.

This study examines the impact of the public library summer reading programs on students. The first report, published in 2014, examines how participating library systems implemented summer reading programs, the characteristics of those systems, and student involvement demands. The second report, published in February of 2015, describes library site visits and interviews with parents and library staff about summer reading programs. The third report, published in March of 2015, traced the effect of summer reading programs on students’ reading achievements.


Johnston, J., Riley, C. R. & Kelly-Vance, L. 2015. "Evaluation of a Summer Reading Program to Reduce Summer Setback." Reading & Writing Quarterly, vol.31, no. 4, pp. 334-350.

According to this study, which analyzed students from a midwestern parochial school serving predominantly students with low-socioeconomic status, the effects of summer reading setback can be reduced if students participate in summer reading programs that incorporate evidence-based reading fluency and comprehension strategies.


Justice, L. M., Piasta, S. B., Capps, J. L., Levitt, S. R., Columbus Metropolitan Library. 2013. "Library-Based Summer Reading Clubs: Who Participates and Why?" The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, vol. 83, no. 4, pp. 321-340.

This report identifies the participants and motivations of the participants in library-based summer reading programs. The research study compiled data through questionnaires distributed to students and caregivers of students enrolled in a summer reading program of a metropolitan library. The questionnaires addressed basic demographics, home environment, and motivational attributes.


Kim, J. S. 2006. "Effects of a Voluntary Summer Reading Intervention on Reading Achievement: Results From a Randomized Field Trial." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 335-355.

In this study, 4th-grade students received eight books to read during their summer vacation. Teachers encouraged the students to practice oral reading at home with family members and to use comprehension strategies during independent, silent reading. The findings suggest that voluntary summer reading intervention may be an effective strategy for improving reading achievement among lower performing students.


Kim, J. S. & Quinn, D. M. 2013. "The Effects of Summer Reading on Low-Income Children's Literacy Achievement From Kindergarten to Grade 8: A Meta-Analysis of Classroom and Home Interventions." Review of Educational Research, vol. 83, no. 3, pp. 386-431.

This research synthesis reviewed summer reading intervention data from 1998-2011. The meta-analysis included 41 classroom- and home-based summer reading interventions and involved children from grades K-8. Studies suggest that children who participated in classroom or home interventions saw increased reading achievements. Research also suggested that students from low-income backgrounds saw larger benefits than students from a mix of income backgrounds.


Koury, A., Justice, L., Jiang, H. & Logan, J. 2019, "Summer Learning: Who Gains, Who Slides, and Does It Matter?" SageSubmissions.

Koury, et. al. examines which group of students benefit the most from summer reading and who is more susceptible to the summer slide. Taking into consideration the general understanding of summer reading loss written about in earlier research, Koury, et. al. claim that previous studies on this subject should be viewed with more caution since recent research has been unable to accurately reflect similar results. For this study, Koury, et. al. found that only a small percentage of children experience academic loss over the summer break, with about 15% experiencing the effects of the summer slide before first grade, and 25% before second grade. The authors note that they would need to provide more research since they could only observe summer learning for two summers, but from the results they were given, it was concluded that more research needs to be done about the summer slide and the dominant narrative on the subject should be reframed.


Krashen, S. 2009. "Anything but Reading." Knowledge Quest, vol. 37, no. 5, pp. 18–25.

An emeritus professor at University of Southern California explains that one of the most effective means of improving reading ability is to supply students with engaging and comprehensive reading materials. Studies suggest that students who read more have a higher reading and spelling ability and larger vocabularies, and one way to motivate students to read is to provide access to self-selected reading materials and time for voluntary reading.


Lu, Y. L., & Gordon, C. 2007. "Reading Takes You Places: A Study of a Web-based Summer Reading Program." School Library Media Research, vol.10, pp. 1-19.

This study examines how a web-based summer reading program affected the reading behaviors and attitudes of high school students. The study included 2,000 students from 9th- through 12th-grade and collected data through student surveys and teacher interviews. The study showed that most students were satisfied with the web-based program, but teacher response was mixed, pointing to the need for greater summer reading program involvement.


Matthews, J. 2013. "Evaluating Summer Reading Programs: Suggested Improvements." Public Libraries Online.

This article reviews the comparable impact of summer school programs and public library summer reading programs on summer reading setback. The article concludes that public libraries could do more to identify the impact of summer reading programs for their students and lists several suggestions for improving evaluations of public library summer reading programs, including adopting a multi-pronged approach, identifying a minimum set of performance measures, and periodically including complimentary summer reading program assessment activities.


McCombs, J. S., Augustine, C., Schwartz, H., Bodilly, S., McInnis, B., Lichter, D. & Cross, A. 2011. Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children's Learning. Rand Education, Santa Monica.

This monograph explores the potential for summer learning programs to improve students’ academic outcome, particularly students who come from low-income families. McCombs et al. reviews literature on summer learning loss and the effectiveness of summer learning programs and presents information about how summer reading programs operate, including funding, facilities, and challenges.


McCombs, J. S., Pane, J. F., Augustine, C. H., Schwartz, H. L., Martorell, P. & Zakaras, L. 2014. Ready for Fall? Near-Term Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Students' Learning Opportunities and Outcomes. Rand Corporation, Santa Monica.

Prior research indicates the summer reading programs can stem summer reading setback, but little research exists about whether summer reading programs can improve students’ reading achievement. This study indicated that reading outcomes were not significantly affected during a five-week summer reading program and further suggested that reading outcomes were dependent upon classroom and site quality.


McGaha, J. M. & Igo, B. L. 2012. "Assessing High School Students' Reading Motivation in a Voluntary Summer Reading Program." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 55, no. 5, pp. 417-427.

This study explores how one urban high school motivated students to read over the summer by providing free, high-interest books to its students, providing further evidence that improving access to books and reading opportunities is a vital step to developing reading proficiency among lower-income students over the summer. The school used teacher feedback to provide reading material that was appealing to high school students and incorporated voluntary choice into reading material, rather than assigning specific books by grade or class.


McLaughlin, B. & Smink, J. 2009. "Summer Learning: Moving from the Periphery to the Core." The Progress of Education Reform, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 1-6.

The Education Commission of the States cites multiple key studies that stress that summer learning is a centerpiece of educational reform strategies. On average, students lose two months of grade-level mathematical computation skills over the summer, and low-income students can also lose two months of reading achievement. Summer Learning Programs offer benefits beyond remedial summer school, because Summer Learning affords students the opportunity of a more blended core of academic learning, which caters to students’ academic and creative needs, including hands-on activities, arts, sports, and interpersonal relationships.


Miller, B. M. 2007. The Learning Season: The Untapped Power of Summer to Advance Student Achievement. Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Quincy, MA.

Dr. Beth Miller, sponsored by the Nellie Mae Foundation, provides an overview of the existing educational research on summer learning. Summer learning loss is a major factor in the achievement gap between students of high and low socioeconomic statuses by the end of elementary school. The study advocates for increasing summer learning opportunities for children and makes suggestions for further research.


Miller, D. 2019. "If Kids Can’t Read What They Want in the Summer, When Can They?" School Library Journal, 17, June.

Teacher and author Donalyn Miller critiques the school system’s tendency to assign outdated and inflexible reading lists to students over the summer. These reading lists often intrude upon a students’ ability to choose their own reading material, ultimately damaging a child’s future interest in reading. She instead advocates for structures that allow for more personal ownership of reading material during the summer, including student-led booklists and a more comprehensive selection with a range of genres, reading levels, and cultural perspectives.


Miller, D. & Sharp, C. 2018. Game Changer!: Book Access for All Kids. Scholastic, New York.

This book showcases the importance of book access for students. Through research and testimonials, the book also provides teachers and administrators with resources and information to increase meaningful student interaction with books and to launch or sustain book access initiatives in communities. Topics covered include successful school and classroom libraries, the power of book ownership, the importance of cultural and social access to books, and meaningful family-community reading engagement.


Morrison, C. 2010. "Transforming a Teen Summer Reading Program." Young Adult Literary Services, vol. 8, no. 4, pp.31-32.

Morrison discusses the methods she used to bring in more teen patrons for her library’s summer reading program. To get a feel for what tweens and teens were looking for in these programs, Morrison conducted school visits and talked to students about what they liked and didn’t like about the library’s past summer programs. In addition to a majority of teens not even being aware that the library had a summer reading program, the author has learned: tweens and teens will participate in reading challenges if they were allowed to choose books on their own accord, and challenges and games will sound more enticing if the prizes offered were varied and appealed to their interests.


Mraz, M. & Rasinski, T. V. 2007. "Summer reading loss." The Reading Teacher, vol. 60, no. 8, pp. 784-789.

This article examines how the summer months impact students’ reading achievement, why summer reading setback occurs, and what can be done to curb summer reading setback. Summer reading setback can be reduced through multiple resources, including focusing on literacy in the home, reading with children, and increasing the availability of reading materials.


National Summer Learning Association. 2014. "Meaningful Linkages Between Summer Programs, Schools, and Community Partners: Conditions and Strategies for Success."

This research brief from the NSLA outlines a report about how partnerships between public library summer learning programs, schools, and community organizations provide cost-effective and valuable summer learning programs for students. Partnerships allow organizations to leverage resources, share risks, exchange information and expertise, and increase the likelihood of positive outcomes.


National Summer Learning Association. 2016. "STEM Policy Brief: The Power of Summer."

This research brief from the NSLA explains how important it is to incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math learning opportunities into summer learning programs. Many students graduate high school without necessary STEM knowledge, but STEM programing in summer learning programs can enhance STEM learning outside of school. High-quality summer learning programs not only hold the potential to improve students’ reading and math skills but can also significantly increase graduation rates and post-secondary success.


National Summer Learning Association. 2019. "Official Statement on Paul T. von Hippel’s New Study on Summer Learning Loss."

This NSLA press release addresses the article by Professor Paul T. von Hippel, “Is Summer Learning Loss Real?” which questions the legitimacy of the widespread belief that summer learning loss results in two months of math and two to three months of reading learning lost for low-income students. The NSLA asserts that summer learning is more than just about academic; it is also about enriching the lives of students, including through summer meals programs, boosting engagement and desire to learn, and encouraging social emotional learning skills.


Neuman, S. B. & Celano, D. 2006. "The Knowledge Gap: Implications of leveling the playing field for low-income and middle-income children." Reading Research Quarterly, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 176-201.

This study analyses computer use and reading through Philadelphia’s Model Urban Library Initiative. The initiative transformed 32 neighborhood branch libraries into a technologically modern urban library system. The study discovered that, although all resources were equally available to both low- and middle-income students, reading levels were not comparably leveled. Even with equal access, low-income students continued to read for shorter periods of time and less challenging material than their middle-income peers.


New York State Board of Regents. 2018. "2.4 Million Children Participated in State Library’s 2018 Summer Reading Program." The State Education Department.

A press release from the New York State Education Department that explains the success of New York State Library’s 2018 Summer Reading Program.


Pitcock, S. & Brekhus, T. 2016. "Cracking the Code to a Successful Summer Reading Program." Education Week, 26 April.

A school district in Illinois where 100% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch outlines the factors to build a successful summer reading program that combats summer reading setback. The district provides customized reading lists to students, offers unlimited access to digital and print books, and cooperates with the community in order to sustain the impacts of summer reading programs.


Quinn, D. M. 2015. "Black-White Summer Learning Gaps: Interpreting the Variability of Estimates Across Representations." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 50-69.

This article suggests that the summer learning gap between Black and White students has been under-examined, and national data indicates the Black-White summer learning gap trends range from significant relative disadvantages to significant relative advantages for Black students. Examining Black-White summer learning gap trends is a crucial step in educational equality. Estimating gap trends, however, depends on statistical models, metrics, and unique assumptions, and requires careful modeling strategies.


Read to Me. 2013. Summer Reading Outreach Guidebook. Idaho Commission for Libraries, Boise.

This guidebook outlines the structure of an Idaho summer reading program model, including childcare outreach, how to partner with organizations and volunteers, summer reading programs in elementary school libraries, national outreach models and resources, and how to evaluate summer reading programs.


Roman, S., Carran, D. T. & Fiore, C. D. 2010. The Dominican Study: Public Library Summer Reading Programs Close the Reading Gap. Dominican University Graduate School of Library & Information Science, River Forest, IL.

The Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University conducted a three-year study to determine the effects that public library summer reading programs had on student reading achievement. The study reveals that students who participate in public library summer reading programs scored higher on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year. Students who participated in public library summer reading programs also demonstrated higher reading achievement than students who did not participate. The study suggests that children who participate in public library summer reading programs increased their reading skills, motivation, confidence, and enjoyment.


Samrose, E., Goodrich, A., Kirkpatrick, K., Sone, O., Logan, M. & Gabay-Swanston, L. 2016. "Public Libraries and Effective Summer Learning: Opportunities for Assessment." Urban Libraries Council.

This report analyzes the importance of public libraries in preventing summer reading setback. Public libraries are especially important for economically disadvantaged students who may not have access to adequate summer learning opportunities. As public libraries continue to diversify and expand their summer learning programs, they require more guidance and support. This report provides several possible avenues of support open to public libraries.


Scholastic Inc. & YouGov. 2019. Kids & Family Reading Report, 7th edn, Scholastic Corporation, New York.

This reading report includes studies on children using literacy to learn how to navigate the world, the importance of diversity in children’s books to increase inclusivity, the value of reading role models and the accessibility of books in children’s lives, the reliance of parents and caregivers on schools and communities for summer reading initiatives, and the rise of reading-aloud experiences in children’s homes.


Small, R.V., Angelastro, E., Bang, S., Bainbridge, S., Brindamour, J. C. & Yannarellu, A. 2009. "Reading Incentives that Work: No-Cost Strategies to Motivate Kids to Read and Love It!" School Library Media Activities Monthly, vol. 25, no. 9, pp. 27-31.

This study examines how impactful extrinsic rewards are to increase intrinsic motivation among students. It is noted that monetary gain for completing a reading assignment does increase motivation, but this behavior is only temporary, and students have exhibited more aversion to recreational reading outside of school because they were never taught to find pleasure in the activity without the aid of extrinsic rewards. It was also shown in the study that students who were given more choices to read and aren’t expected to complete a written exam afterwards find more enjoyment in reading. The authors conclude that extrinsic rewards shouldn’t be the sole influencer for motivating students to read, and teachers and librarians should focus more on model reading behaviors and understanding what stimulates students to read.


Stanovich, K. E. 2000. Progress in Understanding Reading: Scientific Foundations and New Frontiers. The Guilford Press, New York.

This book synthesizes multiple research sources concerning the psychological processes of reading, reading acquisition, and literacy development. This research aids multiple issues, such as preventing reading difficulties and identifying effective instructional practices. Topics covered include phonological processes in reading, dyslexia, and the cognitive benefits of reading.


Von Hippel, P. T. 2019. "Is Summer Learning Loss Real?" Education Next, vol. 19, no. 4.

Von Hippel debates the legitimacy of the widespread belief that summer learning loss results in two months of math and two to three months of reading learning lost for low-income students. He explains that he attempted to replicate results in summer learning literature but was unable to replicate results using modern exams. He analyses past research on early learning and concludes that most gaps between students’ skills form before the age of five and remain fixed through 9th-grade and faults inconsistencies and contradictions in research data for misconceptions about summer learning loss.


White, T. G. & Kim, J. S. 2008. "Teacher and Parent Scaffolding of Voluntary Summer Reading." The Reading Teacher, vol. 62, no. 2, pp. 116-125.

This report suggests that voluntary reading during the summer can enhance reading achievement and reduce summer reading setback for ethnic minority students. This is more effective if voluntary summer reading levels match students’ reading levels and interests and if teachers and guardians support voluntary reading through oral reading practice and comprehension strategies.



The document above, including the bibliography, in .pdf formatpdf icon [193k; last updated November 2019]

Other New York State Library Literacy and Related Initiatives

Additional Resources

Summer Reading at New York Libraries is funded through the Federal Library Services and Technology Act, with funds awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. The New York State Library is a program of the Office of Cultural Education in the New York State Education Department.

Last Updated: November 13, 2019 -- sm