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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!

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: Summer Quest & Patch Power 2023

A reading adventure awaits! Summer Quest is the reading program hosted by the 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.

Participants will also be able to participate in the 2023 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 5–August 13, 2023

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 2023 program. Be sure to check your local branch for more information these reading challenges for your kids.

Delaware County Library System

June 19–August 17, 2023

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, from 5–8 pm.

Lower Merion Library System

June 17–August 12, 2023

Summer Quest 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 19–August 11, 2023
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! Plus there will be plenty of fun events and activities will held virtually and/or in the library throughout the summer for all ages, so stop on in today!

And by the way, here are a few recommended books from the Upper Merion Township Library’s children’s department:

  • Favorite tween pick: Wonder by R.J. Palacio. “It’s a great way to begin a conversation about diversity with your tween.”
  • Favorite picture book: The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak. “A must that will keep kids in a fit of giggles forever.”

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. To keep kids reading this summer, Children’s Book World (CBW) is hosting a “Read and Review Summer Reading Program” for students in grade 3 through high school. Starting on June 1st and running all summer, they are inviting 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 $1 of store credit to be used in the fall.

What’s more, kids can choose to write their review or create a TikTok that may be featured on the CBW TikTok page! Stop in the store for more details and to have your child choose their first book.

Main Point Books

116 N Wayne Avenue, Wayne

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

Main Point Books just celebrated their 10th anniversary as an independent bookstore in Wayne and expanded into a larger space. Their new children’s area is bright and cheery, and is a nice place to spend time with your kids. Although the store isn’t hosting a specific reading program, 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!

Educational Edge

Educational Edge specializes in matching students with exceptional educators for targeted instruction and enrichment to support students in grades K-12 either virtually or in person.

Eye Level Learning Center of Berwyn

A Main Line Parent Family Favorite winner in 2023, Eye Level Learning Center of Berwyn is offering one-to-one tutoring for children in kindergarten through High School in their math and English enrichment programs.

GBO Educational Services

GBO Educational Services offers customized virtual tutoring to their clients.

Heads Up Learning

At Heads Up Learning, kids get a holistic and literacy-based language learning experience. As partners in learning, Laura and your learner explore patterns and learn critical thinking skills for a nuanced discovery of language. Lessons are available for French language, English reading and writing, and scaffolded school support.

REACH Tutors

REACH offers academic tutoring, one-on-one and small group sports training, and executive functioning. No matter what your child’s academic or athletic experience may be, REACH helps fill in the gaps and deliver personalized attention, enrichment, and care on your schedule. Learn more.

Thrive Literacy

Thrive Literacy Camps provide fun, hands-on, grade-appropriate instruction on literacy skills and strategies while working to instill a love of reading, writing, and learning.

Lead photo courtesy of Olia Danilevich via Pexels.

Main Line Parent Writer & Calendar Editor. Email beth@familyfocus.org.