STATE SUPERINTENDENT'S BLOG
Parents: Help Children Keep the Pages Turning This Summer
July 1, 2011
As we celebrate the first few weeks of summer, many of us are planning to spend time sitting on the beach, in the park or relaxing in a hammock with a good book. One of the reasons we look forward to this activity is because our parents and teachers helped us develop a love for reading as we were growing up. And, as we learned to enjoy reading as a pastime, we also were building and strengthening important literacy skills that have enabled us to succeed later in life.
This love for reading is a precious gift that all parents should pass along to their children, especially during this time away from the classroom. Research has shown that students lose valuable literacy skills during the summer and that one major reason why students do not read during time away from school is because they cannot find books that are engaging and challenging. That is why staff at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction have created the "READ NC" Web page at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/lexiles. This page includes free resources you can use to help your child use a Lexile measure to find books well-matched to his or her personal interests and reading skill levels.
A Lexile measure assesses the difficulty level of all types of different text as well as the reading skill level for students. In North Carolina, students who take the grades 3-8 end-of-grade reading test as well as high school students taking the English I end-of-course state test, receive a Lexile measure on their test results report. Most students will get these score reports along with their final report cards. Once you have this report, you can look for the Lexile measure at the bottom of this report, where you also will find the web address for our "READ NC" Web page. On this page, you will find links to an online book search tool, a Lexile book map and other tools that will help you connect your child with great books during vacation and throughout the year.
Your work is not done once you get a good book in your child's hands, however. It is so important for parents, teachers and other adults to talk to students about what they are reading. Asking questions about a story's plot, setting, main characters or other details can help young learners better understand and appreciate what they are reading. It is also a good idea to take some time to read what your child is reading so you can have rich conversations about the details of a story. You also should ask your students if the books they are reading are too easy or too challenging. If your child is breezing through the pages or, on the other hand, stumbling through the pages, he or she may be less likely to finish the book and pick up the next one. Constant communication plays a critical role in helping children to discover that reading is important and that it can be fun too!
So before you pick up that next page-turner this summer, make sure your child also has a good book to enjoy. When you pass down your love for reading, you are giving your child the tools needed for success in college and a career and you are sharing a gift that will keep on giving throughout his or her lifetime.
June St. Clair Atkinson