Between summer camp, family vacations, and partaking in some well-deserved rest and relaxation, reading is often not at the top of students’ list of summer priorities.
But it should be.
Though reading achievements have improved in nearly every grade level since Spring 2021, they still aren’t quite reaching pre-pandemic levels. And, as a July 2022 Northwest Evaluation Association report found, the largest achievement declines are still among Black and Hispanic students, who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic across the board.
The “Summer Slide” has always been real, and as young Black students from low-income backgrounds continue recovering from the many ways the pandemic has impacted their education, they’re fighting an uphill battle.
“Students from low-income backgrounds are even more at risk, as they are less likely to have access to consistent and effective summer programming and support,” says Katie Potter, senior literacy manager at Lee & Low Books. “During the pandemic, summer programs needed to pivot and support all aspects of a child’s learning, like social and emotional learning and physical and mental wellbeing, that were missed due to virtual schooling.”
But summer reading is critical to ensuring both academic and lifelong success.
“Whether it’s playing basketball or reading,” says Kathy Lester, a school librarian in Plymouth, Michigan, and president of the American Association of School Librarians, “to really get good at something, you have to practice.”
As a classroom teacher, Ahjah Gage saw the decline in literacy levels firsthand. Now, as co-founder and associate director of The BLAC Project, she works to promote literacy as a means to uplift Black and Brown people.
“Unfortunately, it disproportionately affected the Black and Brown children even more,” Gage says. “We continue to serve so that we can continue to better our community, because we see that there’s a lacking in that, especially in the last three years.”