Students who don’t read over the summer lose crucial reading and cognitive skills gained over the school year – an epidemic often referred to as, “summer slide.” By the end of 6th grade, children who lose reading skills over the summer are two years behind their classmates. Nashville Public Library’s Summer Challenge program is designed as an antidote to this learning loss. Each year, tens of thousands of participants are encouraged to read, create, volunteer and explore – all while earning points for incentives and attending free, high-quality programming across 21 NPL locations.
NPL’s Summer Challenge program is a free, integrative program that rewards children and their families for reading, creativity, cultural experiences and community engagement. Caregivers of all backgrounds report that Summer is the most difficult time to plan productive activities. Our 21 locations feature programming for all ages including storytimes, crafts, musicians, local artists, science-based activities, book clubs, maker programs with Studio NPL, gardening and much more. Better still, Summer Challenge materials are available in several languages and NPL now offers robust outreach programming and traveling collections to students who have limited to no access to libraries.
Summer slide is particularly relevant for low income students and some researchers estimate 50-67% of the achievement gap for children living in poverty and in children of color is the result of summer learning loss. Summer reading programs like Summer Challenge have also proven especially beneficial for struggling readers as they allow more adjustments, individualization and formats than most school curriculum allows. Studies show that being able to select one’s own reading materials is a powerful motivator for struggling readers and that all students read more when they can choose their own materials. Additionally, participants in summer reading programs are more confident when they return to the classroom. It’s proven that reading just 4 or 5 books over the summer can have a significant impact.