Blogger Jonathan Dolce

Summer Reading 2021 When COVID met Summer Slide

covid slide projections, reading decreases 32-37%

COVID Slide and Summer Slide Meet

There are no definitives in this article. I’m sorry. Some split infinitives assuredly, though.

So, 2020 and summer reading was new for us. Most of our library systems are going to continue circling the in-person programming wagons in 2021 in favor of going online. The system I work for, in fact, is purchasing online programming, which was actually pretty well received. But, as in the past, I wanna light a fire under you. You’ve already met summer slide. And we’re pretty sure there’s a COVID Slide. So, what happens when they start dating? What do their children look like?

Wallflower No More

I understand why you may have sidelined yourself last summer. It was chilly water. We stood back and watched, waited, hoped, and tried to remain optimistic. We waited largely to see what other systems would do. But we didn’t do much else.

I would propose to you to stop being a wallflower – and get out there again. But first, here’s why. There’s a dire need for your intervention. Your community needs you.

Some hard facts

Before we get into the how-to, here’s the how come. NWEA put together some projections. Here’s one chart:

chart created by NWEA demonstrating COVID and summer slide in reading

Source: NWEA, April 2020:

Though most school systems have gone back to face-to-face lessons, not all have. There’s still going to be a downward trend. So, there’s more reason than ever to put in the extra effort in your programming to address summer slide — it’s being compounded with COVID Slide; it’s a thing now.

You don’t have to read all of NWEA’s research to get the gist. And luckily for you, there’s some Cliff’s Notes:

Source: NWEA, Sept 2020

Some more facts for those who need them:

Summer Learning Loss:

  • National Summer Learning Association–The national organization that promotes enriching summer learning programs can provide resources to help launch programs.
  • Horizons National–This national network uses partnerships with private school and college campuses to provide summer programs for low-income children at no cost to the school district or city.
  • Summer Advantage USA–The summer program provides thousands of elementary and middle school students with research-based learning focused on academic gains.

Socioeconomics, too

Socioeconomics or, basically, the zipcode lottery has a huge impact, too on both summer slide and now COVID slide.

Where You Come In

So, this is where you come in. If you haven’t done so already, start an online storytime. Pick a platform and make it happen. Here’s a really nice set up they have in Idaho:

Storytimes Online – The Idaho Commission for Libraries offers a website with daily messages to parents about literacy-building activities and daily featured e-books from Tumblebooks, a subscription service free to library users. Virginia and South Carolina, the origin of the idea, have built similar programs.

You can make storytime really meaningful, too. Need ideas? Try these!

skill building book tips
Books & Tips that Promote Life Skills: free, downloadable resources for building children’s life skills based on classic and diverse children’s books.
Resources are available in English and Spanish and designed for three age groups, infants and toddlerspreschoolers and school-age.

Set up daily communication with parents: if practicable, send daily texts to parents chock full of ideas for literacy activities. Partner with your local Head Start or early learning centers if you want to tap into their network.

It needn’t just be all you. Push these great resources at your patrons:

Wonderopolis – Daily tweets, Facebook posts and links to videos about the “wonder of the day” designed to inspire conversation, vocabulary building and further exploration. From the National Center for Family Literacy, which has published more than 700 wonders so far.

General Resources:

For Families

Academics and Literacy




College and Career Readiness/Mentoring


Parent Engagement:

  • Reading Rockets has a great set of Reading Tip Sheets for Parents that are used by many GLR communities. The reading tip sheets are available in English and Spanish. There are seven individual one page tip sheets for parents of babies, toddlers, PreK, K, Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3. These are also available in Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Korean, Navajo, Russian, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Reading Rockets has one page tip sheets for parents of children in Grades K-3

For Programs

For Communities

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