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Avoid the Summer Slide With Fun Books and Reading Programs

Tips and resources to keep your readers sharp til the next school year

Young girl reading in bed during the summer.

A summer slide sounds like a good time, right? So why avoid a slide? Well, because this is a different slide. It’s the reading and learning loss that happens over summer break.

“The summer slide is when students can actually lose some of the knowledge they gained from the previous years’ worth of schooling,” says Laura Arnhold, Upper Merion Township Library Director. When this happens, students go back to school needing a lot more catch-up work to be ready to learn. Studies show students who read as few as five books during the summer can prevent this summer slide from happening.”

Five books? We’re on it! To help launch your child’s summer reading adventure, we’ve compiled a list of free reading programs at local libraries, area bookstores, and tutoring and enrichment programs. So read on! But first, here are some tips to make books more appealing to young readers:

Tips for Encouraging Young Readers

  • Let them read books they’re excited about. Summertime is about reading for fun, which helps create life-long readers.
  • Keep reading exciting and appealing for little readers, choose books featuring the three Rs: rhyme, rhythm, repetition.
  • Practice the Five Finger Rule: If your child mispronounces more than five words on a page, the text is too difficult for them to read independently and gain meaning, says Literacy for Little Ones owner Brooke Choate.
  • Make sure they have access to books — print or electronic — anytime.
  • At dinner or on the way to sports practice, talk to them about the books they are reading. Share what you’re reading, too!

Library Reading Program: Adventure Begins at Your Library 2024

A reading adventure awaits! Summer Quest is the reading program hosted by public libraries in our area for preschool children and students in elementary, middle, and high school. Created by the Collaborative Summer Library Program, Summer Quest encourages students to read or listen to books every day and keep track online, or on a paper log that can be picked up at a library branch. Then, at the end of the summer, Questers earn rewards for their reading accomplishments. This year’s theme is “Adventure Begins at Your Library.”

Participants will also be able to participate in the 2024 Patch Power program and earn embroidered patches to hang on backpacks or sew onto clothes.

The Summer Quest program details vary a bit among the different library systems. Find your local library system below and learn the specifics about their program schedule, reading logs, prizes, and more.

Chester County Library System

June–August 2024

Students from pre-K through grade 12 can find a summer reading program through the Beanstack app on the Chester County Library System website. A handful of branches are hosting challenges including Chester County Library & Henrietta Hankin, West Chester, Easttown, Tredyffrin and Malvern. And at the main branch in Exton, kids in grades preK–5 can register for the Summer Quest & Patch Power 2024 program. Be sure to check your local branch for more information these reading challenges for your kids.

Delaware County Library System

June 19–August 2024

Delaware County libraries are hosting Summer Quest challenges for preschool, elementary school and teen readers. All 28 Delco library branches will host a Summer Quest kick-off event and will be offering all types of programs to make this summer fun. The county-wide, Summer Quest kick-off happens at the Delaware County’s Juneteenth Celebration in Rose Tree Park, June 19, at 5:30 pm. However, readers can join at any time during the summer!

Lower Merion Library System

June 17–August 10, 2024

The Summer Reading Challenge at LMLS offers reading programs for every age: preschool (ages 0–5), children (those entering grades K–5th), young adults (tweens and teens entering grades 6–12), as well as adults. The programs encourage reading and library visits for special activities. Prizes will be awarded at the end of the program. Check out the LMLS Summer Times to learn about events and programs for kids, teens and families.

Upper Merion Township Summer Reading Program

June 17–August 9, 2024
Upper Merion Township Library, 175 West Valley Forge Road, King of Prussia

Read books and earn prizes! Kids entering grades K–4 can sign up for the summer reading program and earn medals, prizes, and more! Students entering grades 5–8 can log reading and complete activities to earn prizes like food coupons, books, and raffle tickets. Additionally, PreK children and their parents can join the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program. Throughout the summer, the library will be holding plenty of fun events and activities for all ages, like the Upper Merion Community Adventure scavenger hunt, so stop on in today!

Local Bookstores

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

Valley Fair, 150 West Swedesford Road, Devon
Main Street at Exton, 301 Main Street, Exton

For more than 20 years, Barnes & Noble Booksellers has offered kids an annual summer reading program. Participation is a fun and easy way for kids in grades 1–6 to earn free books. They simply read eight books — library books, books borrowed from friends, or books bought at Barnes & Noble — and write about their favorite part in their downloadable reading journal. Once kids have read eight books, they can bring their completed journal to to a Barnes & Noble bookstore any time in July and August. and choose a free book from the list on their reading journal.

Children’s Book World

17 Haverford Station Road, Haverford

This local, Main Line area bookstore is committed to sharing the joy of reading and provides a fun atmosphere to find books for kids. One way they encourage kids to keep reading this summer, is their “Read and Review Summer Reading Program” for students in grade 3 through high school. Starting in June and running all summer, Children’s Book World invites readers to come in and borrow a copy of a book that hasn’t been published yet. Readers choose an ARC (advanced reading copy), then read and review the book. For each review, students earn store credit to be used in the fall. Stop in the store for more info!

Main Point Books

116 N Wayne Avenue, Wayne

The children’s area in the expanded Main Point Books in Wayne

Main Point Books, an independent bookstore in Wayne, has been a neighborhood hub for readers for 10+ years. Their children’s area is bright and cheery, and provides a pleasant spot to spend time with your kids—and books. Although the store isn’t hosting a specific reading program this summer, its mission is provide a place to “talk about, discover and promote great books.” So drop in if you want to foster a love of reading in your family.

Towne Book Center and Wine Bar

160 Market Street, Suite C-6, Collegeville

A local, independent bookstore since 1990, Town Book Center is a longtime community hub for readers of all ages. Spend an afternoon or evening browsing for a great summer read for everyone in the family.

Reading & Educational Enrichment Programs

Are you looking for a tutor or enrichment program for your child this summer? Consider one of these Main Line Parent Member businesses to help your child avoid the summer slide!

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